Lawyers are trained to consider the negative implications of anything new. When the idea of chatbots on law firm websites first surfaced, many were concerned about the potential for malpractice liability based on poor advice from a chatbot. But giving legal advice is not something your law firm would ever want a chatbot to do.
Where a chatbot can excel is assisting visitors with quickly navigating your website, routine questions or directions on how to schedule an appointment, e.g. “You mentioned bankruptcy. Our law firm’s bankruptcy resource page is xyzxyz.com. Would you like to schedule an in-office or virtual appointment to meet with one of our bankruptcy lawyers? I can do that for you.” Hopefully that example shows how a bot can be valuable for the firm. Another response might be “You mentioned criminal law. Our firm does not do criminal defense. The Oklahoma Bar Association hosts a site called OklahomaFindALawyer which lets you search for lawyers doing that type of practice.”
Several lawyers in private practice who spoke at ABA TECHSHOW recently mentioned that they believed their law firms’ chatbots assisted them with getting website visitors to schedule an appointment to discuss a new matter, often using no staff time. Some law firms allow potential clients to schedule appointments right on their websites.
If your firm doesn’t offer that feature yet, the chatbot can say “Let me put you in touch with someone to schedule your appointment.” But that person will need to communicate by text. If the potential new client wanted to talk to someone on the phone, they would have placed a phone call. I also note one of the ABA TECHSHOW’s Start Up Alley Competition three winners in 2020 was a law firm intake qualification system featuring an AI-powered chatbot.
How to create a chatbot that works for you and your customers is an interesting read about one company’s development, initial failures and fine-tuning of their now-successful chatbot.