You may recall that back in June 2012 I published a White Paper exploring the use (or non-use) of apps for clients by professional service firms (see http://kimtasso.com/law-firms-still-missing-a-trick-with-apps/ – let me know if you would like a copy at email@example.com or search for app). I have continued to review notable new apps as and when they appear – after all, the future is mobile.
This Law firm app review is on ProAnnexUs is being produced by Simon Astill, former managing partner of Harvey Ingram LLP and Risk Director at Shakespeares LLP, who has 25 years on the front line and in management of legal services.
Ostensibly a directory of lawyers for clients – whether existing or new users of commercial or consumer legal advice- it contains inbuilt messaging, document flow and photo sharing to start a transactional relationship. It then allows the professional to raise a bill and for the client to pay through the inbuilt secure credit card facility and review and even “favourite” the lawyer for future use. It’s an interesting concept.
It’s a subscription based service requiring a log in. The first screen invites you to “Find a lawyer” (there’s a list of legal specialities including commercial, IP-IT, Property etc – I would prefer more client friendly terms). The home page is short and contains messages, notifications, favourites and payments (indicated with a $ sign).
Search results are shown in location order with a profile photo of the lawyer, a five star rating system (so there’s a review function) and a price indicator (up to five £ signs). There’s also an indicator of type of professional adviser – although all are law at present. I assume that the service would be extended to accountant, surveyor, finance and other professionals.
Profiles of professionals are short – mainly focusing on practice areas although there is space for the number of successful transactions (presumably within the app). It’s a shame that there isn’t integration with LinkedIn which might make setting up profiles easier. I couldn’t see any contact details – presumably that is to keep the dialogue within the app.
The idea is then that the client messages the chosen lawyer(s) and asks for a quote. Facilities to incorporated money laundering checks are being considered. I couldn’t see any evidence of how document transfer and storage might be accommodated in the screen shots that I saw.
The billing facility is basic and based on multiples on whole billable hours – so I couldn’t see how fixed fees would be accommodated. And while clients can pay their bill through their phone, the example I saw didn’t have VAT calculations included. Nor the ability to produce receipts. And I did wonder how this might integrate with a firm’s account system although this is one of the further developments being considered.
The review facility looks like it might have potential – especially as it is integrated with social media so that reviews can be shared.
It’s an ambitious and exciting concept. But clearly it will take work to get the app ready for serious use. And support from professionals to sign up to and populate the directory. And then a significant marketing campaign to engage clients to use the service. But I like the innovative and bold thinking. I hope it gets developed a little further before the major legal directories, legal information providers and/or social media platforms present their offerings.
Further details at: www.proannexus.com The current phase is about getting professionals to sign up to the service and to provide input on the development.