Published on February 11th, 2021 | by Sumit Bhowal0
Ethical Tips When Adding Chat to your Law Firm Website
For many law firms that are up and coming and constantly expanding their clientele, it’s important for them to be able to be accessible to all of them at any time. Many law firms decide that rather than try to expand their staff through hiring paralegals for in-person interaction, they can achieve a similar result by creating a triage system through online chat systems on their firm’s websites. This is generally an acceptable idea, but it’s important that they follow a few key rules, mainly in the form of ethics. So here are four ethical tips a law firm should consider when adding a chat to their website.
1. Will you Provide an Information or Advice Based Chat?
For most law firms, the online chat feature will generally be used by prospective clients, and not so many existing ones. Therefore when many of these new potential clients begin to use the chat feature, they will likely either ask some questions about whether they have a case or already be prepared to disclose issues regarding their case.
It’s important to denote what the purpose of your chat feature is about, whether you are looking to appease potential clients and provide information based on case details, or if you are merely trying to tell people what they should do. It’s important to note that if it’s not a lawyer on the firm’s end on these chats, they can only provide information, and they cannot provide legal advice. Therefore, it’s important at the beginning of a chat feature to disclose whether you will only be able to provide information, or if you are a lawyer and are able to provide legal advice.
2. Human Interaction vs. Artificial Intelligence
Online chats are a very common tool among many industries, but some of the larger industries forgo human interaction and have just gone to machine-based chats. These chats can be convenient in most cases, the client can type in their issue and the machine can identify keywords that can direct them to the appropriate resource, whether it’s a direct connection to an employee or a form or common FAQ. While a machine-based chat may seem more efficient for your busy and likely more cost-effective, most clients do not take very well to machine interaction, as they feel unprioritized and may lose trust in your firm. So if you decide that you want to use a machine-based chat, make sure you disclose it in an in-person meeting so they are aware of the expectations. Montgomery County car accident lawyers, RGSG, employ real-person chat boxes on their site for a more personalized feel. “People really appreciate it and it’s helped us land some clients.”
3. Confidentiality of Information
- That you the law firm have ensured any data or information entered into the chat is protected from any security breach and is not passed on to another third party.
- That the law firm has procedures in place to ensure its chat features frequently receive security updates and will notify of any breaches.
- That the client is the owner of all data.
- That both sides agree that in the event of termination of the attorney-client relationship that any information disclosed over the chat will be returned to the client.
4. Chat Agent Supervision
In regards to whether a chat feature is a machine or human, a law firm should have active supervision over the content and activities being conducted on these applications. Are your chat agents being properly trained in terms of how to collect information and providing proper answers to critical questions asked by the clients? Are you actively training and reviewing the conduct of your chat agents to ensure the chat feature is effective in bringing in new clientele and keeping existing clientele satisfied to protect your reputation? Finally, if you are using a machine-based triage, are you constantly reviewing the content coming in and seeing if the coded AI responses are compatible with the more common content.