New technologies and digitalisation are shaping the present and will further shape the future of the legal profession. Both the potential and the consequences of digitisation in the legal context is only beginning to be explored. Nevertheless, it is affecting today’s working life of lawyers. Because of its impact on the legal market, on legal analysis, and simply because it exists.
We talked to Christoph Neubauer lawyer and specialist (Fachanwalt) for insurance law at Kessler Winkelmeyr Neubauer in Bamberg, Germany. The lawyer is using advocado, an encrypted online platform that facilitates the first contact, legal advice and legal representation between lawyers and clients. We were interested to hear about his approach to new technologies, how he came to use the platform, and his experience so far.
Katrin Kessler, Thomas Winkelmeyr and Christoph Neubauer founded Kessler Winkelmeyr Neubauer, “lawbox” in 2016. The lawyers had worked together for many years, “we know each other very well as we have been working together since our admission to the bar.” At lawbox, the team provides legal services in a modern working climate following the motto “juristisch | praktisch | gut”, which means “legal | practical | good”.
The relationship with their clients is also practical, uncomplicated and down-to-earth. With the online platform advocado, Christoph Neubauer provides legal advice to a new group of clients: online users. “I learned about advocado through Eurojuris Germany.” A colleague had introduced the platform at the Eurojuris Germany General Assembly 2018 in Leipzig. Later, additional information was sent out in the Eurojuris Germany newsletter. “I got curious. It is as simple as that.” He adds, “we are no pioneers in the field of legal tech. However, we follow the current developments and consider what can be useful for us.” Because the platform can be used easily without great effort in setting up a profile, he decided to give it a try.
The user-friendly approach, as well as the quick guidance by the advocado team, appealed to the specialist in insurance law, contract law, and inheritance law. Quickly, the first requests for mandates came in.
Now, lawbox receives several quality inquiries per week. So far, the requests concerned inheritance law by a majority. 'There seems to be a great need for advice in this area among online users.' Christoph Neubauer continues, “I don't spend much time dealing with dubious requests. On the contrary, the quality of requests is much higher than I expected.”
Yet interesting requests do not equal new mandates. Because with advocado, the first consultation with the specialist, i.e. the lawyer, is free of charge. Many clients use the portal to get a simple question answered quickly. “The first consultation often provides an answer.” At the moment, the ratio between enquiries and new mandates is unbalanced. “I had expected a higher rate. In my opinion, the number of new mandates is to increase. However, the mandates assigned are of good quality and I had no problems with payments for my legal services at all.”
Christoph Neubauer adds, 'maybe, I give too much information at the first consultation. The feedback provided by the client is always positive, such as 'quick answer and informative conversation. Thank you very much, it was very helpful.'' That illustrates the difficulty of presenting one’s experience and proving one’s knowledge to potential clients without already providing legal advice. It certainly is a tricky balancing act.
Now, it is too early to assess the long-term benefits and financial profit. What is certain, Christoph Neubauer is satisfied with his decision to provide online legal advice and to use new technologies and digitalisation to his advantage.