YourABA October 2011 Masthead
 

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Three tips on using technology to improve client service

Everywhere you look people are using technology outside the confines of the workplace. No matter what type of clients you serve, it’s likely they want to be able to use the same technologies for similar conveniences when they’re working with you. Happily, there are numerous tools to help you accomplish that, even within the limits of a solo or small firm budget.

Location, location, location

Whether you have a brick-and-mortar office or use a rented conference space to meet clients, how about creating a Google Map for your website or email signature to show clients the way? Simply go to maps.google.com and type your address into the search box. Click on the “Link” tool on the upper right and grab the link to the map, or get the code to embed into your website, blog or signature lines. You can also take it a step further by creating a customized map that shows the way to other locations that may be useful to your clients based on your practice area.

For instance, if yours is a family law practice, you could create a map that includes logical paths from your office to the family court, child services and local Social Security offices. Think about what would be helpful to your clients—perhaps you want to include a local coffee shop, the closest place to get gasoline, the nearby mall or a scenic overlook, too. It’s easy to create the custom maps. Log in to Google, go to the Maps page, click on “My Maps” and watch the video tutorial for instructions on how to set it up. Also, don’t forget to add your business address to Google Places for free.

Sign here

It depends on your practice area, but if you have a typical law office, you may have a lot of documents that require not only client signatures but also require certain fields to be filled and initialed. For some transactions, this could include multiple signers in a certain order, too. The tools commonly employed to accomplish this work flow include traditional mail, email, scanning and faxing—but only to find that someone forgot to complete a field or initial something and it must go out again. Enter the new e-signature solutions that make this process much easier for your clients and you.

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Services like DocuSign and RightSignature make it simple to upload documents, flag required fields and signature blocks, send the documents on to the needed signers and reviewers, and ultimately allow them to “sign” the document with a mouse or stylus (similar to signing for a UPS or FedEx package). Companies are also developing apps for iPad-like devices as well as iPhones. As with any technology used to share confidential information, of course, make sure you’re confident about the security and privacy that the vendor has in place, and consider regulatory requirements for certain types of documents.

For your eyes only

As every lawyer knows, maintaining the confidentiality of client information is an ethical foundation of the profession. E-mail, though, presents special issues. While ABA Formal Opinion 99-413 states that “a lawyer may transmit information relating to the representation of a client by unencrypted email sent over the Internet without violating the Model Rules of Professional Conduct,” it follows that up with the caveat that “a lawyer should consult with the client and follow her instructions, however, as to the mode of transmitting highly sensitive information relating to the client’s representation.” And, in addition to ethical duties, some states (e.g., Massachusetts) have a statutory requirement to encrypt certain types of information in transit.

For adding extra security to electronic communications, your options include employing encrypted e-mail and document transfer through services like Dialawg, Rpost or ZixCorp. Discuss the options with your clients—and make sure that the encryption tool you choose is easy to use for both the sender and the recipient. Your clients will appreciate your extra efforts to keep their information safe and secure.

“Three Tips on Using Technology to Improve Client Service” is adapted from “ Using Technology to Improve Client Service: From the Simple to the Sublime ,” originally published in ABA Law Practice Magazine, January/February 2011. For more technology tips, click here

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