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Lauren Riley (Guest Contributor)
Lauren Riley starred on The Apprentice 2014. She is the Director and Founder of The Link App, a 21st Century Solution to solicitor-client communication. Outside of business, Lauren is a consultant solicitor at Labrums, specialising in family law.
The Apprentice star Lauren Riley discusses The Link App and why the legal world should not be afraid of embracing 21st century technology.
I first had the idea for The Link App not long after I qualified as a solicitor. I decided to specialise in family law as I wanted to make a real difference. I was prepared for being put through the mill emotionally, especially when dealing with cases involving children, but nothing prepared me for the amount of time spent keeping everyone ‘in the loop.’ In all honesty, it came as something of a shock. It was a daily battle just to keep up with the constant emails, phone calls, even letters going back and forth.
I have always been interested in business and envisaged myself as an entrepreneur in the future. Now, the more I thought about it, the more I was convinced there must me a simpler way for lawyers to communicate with their clients. A system that would not only save time but also money; after all this is the twenty first century. Phone calls and snail mail are so last century. After listening to my colleagues moaning, I realised I was not alone. Then it hit me, and The Link App was born. My market research told me I was on to something as the response was nothing but positive.
I cannot deny that I was nervous about stepping back from the relative comfort of legal practice to venture into the tech industry but it has been an adventure. There are not that many females heading up companies in this sector so I am proud to have become one of them. The support I have received has been overwhelming: from fellow solicitors and people within the tech industry, through to business experts. When people believe in your vision it is amazing how much they are willing to do to help bring it to life.
So how does it work? The Link App is very simple to use. After downloading the system onto their computer, tablet or phone, the solicitor enters their user name and password, logs in and is presented with an alphabetically ordered list of clients that they are currently working with. When a client is selected, their case(s) appears and when one of those cases is chosen, a list of updates, that have already been sent, are shown. There is an option to use pre-populated case updates, which allow a lawyer to send regular notifications to the client at the click of a button. For example, ‘drainage search back: no issues’ or ‘contracts exchanged at 10.30am, completion due in seven days.’ However, I appreciate that lawyers cannot always work within pre-defined options, so additional or bespoke case updates can be tailored to suit a particular case.
The app is equally easy for a client to use. Clients are given a unique login which allows them access to their own case(s) so they can see how things are progressing. The app also saves them time as they do not have to keep requesting updates about their case; all the information they need can be accessed at the touch of a button.
In today’s highly competitive world of business, customer service is key in the battle for client retention. Therefore, if they do feel the need to talk to their lawyer, the client can simply request a call back via the app. To ensure security, all communications via the app are encrypted, and all interactions are automatically recorded, as they happen, in the App’s case management system.
So how much does the Link App cost? It is free of charge for clients to use, while legal firms can pay as little as £13 per case, depending on usage, plus a nominal annual fee. If there are any technical problems, support is available over the phone or via email. At the moment the app is tailored to private client users but I can see it working just as well in additional disciplines and plan to pursue those areas once further investment is secured.
The Link App is very much about communication; so many client/lawyer relationships can break down simply due to there not being enough regular and productive contact between the two parties. I really believe this app will revolutionise the way law firms interact with their clients. Productivity will be increased, as there will be far less interruptions; consequently, both time and money will be saved. The Link App is also a valuable marketing tool as it will ensure a firm stays one-step ahead of its rivals. Finally, it makes that particular firm a far more attractive option to prospective clients than one that is still stuck in the dark ages.
When I entered the legal profession, I was keen to be anything but a stuffy solicitor. I think I have achieved that. I am enormously proud of the Link App and as it was designed for solicitors, by a solicitor, I believe the profession will embrace it. The Link App will certainly help give the letter of the law a facelift and maybe not drag it, but ease it gently into the twenty first century.
Lauren Riley is a consultant solicitor at Labrums and creator of The Link App, which is available for download from late November on iOS and Android devices, from the App Store and Google Play respectively.
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