November/December 2019

Future Proofing

Is There a Chatbot on Your Staff?

Dan Pinnington & Reid Trautz

While many readers of this column use Siri or Alexa on a daily basis without a second thought, most will also say they are annoyed when these little fake humans pop up on a website asking you to stop to chat when all you want to do is a quick drive-by. However, no matter how annoying these snippets of technology may seem today, in a few short years most law firms will have a chatbot helping with some of the work your lawyers and staff are doing today.

Types of Chatbots

A chatbot is an artificial intelligence program that simulates interactive human conversation by using common predetermined phrases in auditory or text-based formats. Presently most of us are familiar with them on customer service lines or websites as they try to engage us to provide information or purchase a product. In the legal field, chatbots (or bots for short) are showing up in several places.

Website bots encourage online visitors to engage and interact rather than just surf past the website. Many bots are created to perform a range of services from providing basic information without having to search the website, gathering information from the visitor (e.g., an email address) or encouraging visitors to schedule an appointment through an online portal. As much as anything, these are really marketing bots—to assist with client marketing and converting potential clients into actual ones.

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