Psychology of a Legal Service Purchase
It recently dawned on me that I might be missing a rudimentary reason underlying the legal industry: why does anyone want to pay for a legal service? “...As always, consult a lawyer…” isn’t mandatory, it's just a mantra. What is the psychology behind the legal service purchase? And has this behavior shifted?
How did I reach this epiphany? An accumulation of 3 factors. First, to seduce people to use your product is not a technological- nor a design -but a Psychological Effort. I learned this while following a course on the psychology of successful products ranging from games, Listerine and the iPhone.
Next, Design Thinking philosophy reiterates the importance of an Open Mind when solving Wicked Problems. Example: is the predicament of the legal industry simply a case of transparency? This was my assignment while receiving a certificate for Design Thinking in Business Innovation. It was also eloquently stated by Margaret Hagan in her lecture “Next Gen Legal Services: The Possibility of Legal Design”. Lesson: beware when addressing a challenge with a deceptively obvious solution.
Finally, it hit me when I was listening to a Customer: they explained why they would not be interested in using a product. Even if it was ethically or legally required to do so. Not even if it was the coolest app on the web. I realized that any ‘new’ product that wants to seamlessly insert itself into the routines of people’s lives will have to Hack Habits.
What I wrote in “Pleasant Habits vs Tedious Tasks” was a belief that any legal product must be beautifully designed in order to prompt a change in user behavior. Not only a gorgeous interface but also mindful interactions. But after hearing the customer explain their reasons for discarding one cool app after the other, I changed my mind.
I realized that world-class designs and awesome use cases would not be enough to persuade future consumers into changing their habits.
After 8 years of enjoying some of the most well-designed mass market products the digital world has ever seen, we have become immune. It’s not just the fact that we have become accustom to beauty or addicted to convenience. But by consuming large quantities of immaculate conceptions, it has forever altered our collective consciousness. As humans, our minds have been reprogrammed and it’s now up to psychology to figure out how we will operate in Robotopia.
Where is the legal industry heading while the economy recovers? Most signs point towards an increased demand for legal services. Better yet, there is evidence that legal spent is up but Law Firms aren’t position to capitalize. Law Firms face “Fundamental, Potentially Irreversible Changes” and are struggling to find a long term view.
While other mysterious animals like Axiom Law outgrow incumbents with an approximate growth rate in the range of 11–18%. By comparison, S&P 500 CAGR is 10.47%. According to the chart below, demand for Law firm services was under 0.5%.
Ultimately, all industries will face a disruption at some point. The Legal Industry is not exempted, not even by law.
Why do we pay for legal services? Here are some reasons:
- Legally obligated by regulatory pressures to comply i.e. filing taxes;
- Morally or Ethically obligated such as representation in litigation;
- It's too damn complicated to do it yourself;
In Robotopia the following rules will apply:
- if a system is based on rules it will be automated;
- if a resource becomes too expensive, a network will surge to source it;
- if a process is too complex, a culture will subsist to simplify it;
The word that keeps coming back to me is…frictionless. And this revelation hit me while listening to the End User: they will not be swayed unless a legal service is a smooth fit in their mind.
When will we shift from the traditional to the modern purchase behavior? Another glance at the chart above suggests the shift already happened in 2009. A more interesting question is: who will capitalize? After the democratizing of Information (Google), Resources (Uber, AirBnB) and Capital (Bitcoin), Legal is next. And the one, who paves a silk road to legal’s servitude in one click, will win.