About Our Guest
Legal automation as a whole is playing catch up. Many firms aren’t using automation tools AT ALL in their law practice. Tom Martin founded LawDroid to fight the fatigue of menial tasks. Those things which take up too much of your day, but don’t require your expertise.
How do you offload work that doesn’t need you (or anyone at your firm for that matter)? Automating tasks from intake to document creation will shave hours off of your workload while increasing your firm’s ability to produce results for your clients.
Stop doing busywork!!
There’s no doubt about it, automation has come a VERY long way over the past few years.
Even with the leaps and bounds, the field has made, many legal professionals are leery of the concept. Some see automation as “replacing” parts of their firm, others see the clear benefits but are intimidated by the thought.
– Thanks for joining us. This is our extended interview with Tom Martin, the CEO and founder of LawDroid and co-founder of the American Legal Technology Awards. The first part of this video is from GNGF Live which happens every other Wednesday over on our Facebook page. The second part here in this bonus, extended interview, we dive into a lot more detail on where the practice of law is heading. If you already saw the live, I’ll put the timestamp to the exclusive extended interview below. Be sure to like the video and subscribe to our channel so you can follow along with all of our great conversations on legal marketing and the business side of running a law firm. Welcome to GNGF Live, your bi-weekly ask the experts about all things law firm marketing and business growth. I’m Mark Homer author of “Online Law Practice Strategies” and founder of Get Noticed Get Found. GNGF Live is brought to you by the Legal Marketing Academy. Learn more about how the Legal Marketing Academy is training and coaching is helping law firm owners who are looking to grow beyond $500,000 in revenue at GNGF.com/Academy. On this show we focus on the business side of growing and running your law firms. So I’m excited to have today’s guest Tom Martin, founder of LawDroid and co-founder of the American Legal Technology Awards. At LawDroid, Tom helps law firms use automation to capture more leads and take more clients, automate more documents, and ultimately just deliver a better client experience. In fact, Tom developed the PatBot for a mutual client of ours, Patrick Palace of Palace Law. So I asked him to join us to talk about that and much, much more. And as always be sure to like, and subscribe to our page, not just the video, so you get updated when our next episode goes live. And of course it never hurts for you to show just a little love and please hit that like button on the video too. It really does help us a lot. We’ve got moderators in the chat. So please ask questions to interact during the premiere. And if you’re watching this in the future, after the premiere, we do monitor the comments and we will reach out to our guests and answer any follow-up questions you have. That’s because we love you all. And we love getting to meet you online, and I’m excited to say we’ll be in person again soon. So you can find a list of our upcoming webinars, CLEs or all our other events where we’ll be speaking over in our website at GNGF.com/Events. We have an extensive library of videos, including our extended GNGF Live interviews, as well as our in-depth GNGF tip series, where we dive into specific marketing topics over on our YouTube channel. And you can watch those videos, well after this interview of course, at that link in the chat. All right, let’s get to the interview. Tom Martin, thanks for joining me today.
– Hey, Mark. Pleasure to be here.
– So yeah, I mentioned this in earlier, but we have a mutual client, Patrick Palace, and you know, you guys created the PatBot for him and you know, so we had that on his website and stuff, that’s great. But real quick, tell me a little about yourself and how you got started with LawDroid.
– Yeah, happy to. So I’m originally from Los Angeles. I now live in Vancouver with my wife and two girls, and that’s been for the past eight years. LawDroid got started about five years ago and basically it started as a way to reach out to consumers directly to allow them to create a corporation on their own. And it was, I have to admit a bit of an experiment and I really wanted to see how people responded to it. And you’ll probably remember at the time chatbots were kind of a new thing then.
– [Mark] Right.
– And also because of that, because it being new, a lot of people didn’t know what to make of it. And so when I would talk to lawyers about chatbots back then they kind of scratch their heads and say, “chat what?” Or chat, you know, they didn’t get the idea. In the past five years it’s definitely changed. It’s become a much more known quantity. And so I’m very excited about the future of what we’re doing, because finally kind of like the expectation of what it can do and what we can do, they match up and people are starting to get it.
– Yeah, this whole, like people starting to get it right. I mean, consumers now are coming across chatbots across all other kinds of websites and interactions with in all kinds of businesses. So yeah, as that consumer expectation lifts up, I think that helps a lot. So I’ve heard you talk before about the LawDroid manifesto. Tell me more about that or for the automation especially?
– Well, the LawDroid manifesto is something that I’m going to be releasing in September, but the long and short of it is that the manifesto is about using automation to make lawyers’ lives better. And the concept is that we’re not trying to replace lawyers, what we’re trying to do is we’re trying to help lawyers be better lawyers. So by automating everything that’s possibly automateable, if that’s a word, we can help lawyers to be better lawyers so they can focus on the stuff that’s most important.
– Awesome. And then you said it’s coming out September?
– Awesome. So, let’s talk about yeah, like automation and stuff. So what are some of the, like the biggest pain points? I mean, cause there’s probably a number of things you can automate, right? So what are some of the big pain points you start with that are, you do to try to help lawyers, you know, like you said, automate as much as they can so they can work on more important things?
– Yeah, so again the concept that everything that can be automated will be automated in the future and the future is now. And so the pain points that lawyers experience, and I can speak to this, having been a lawyer myself for over 20 years, that, you know, there’s various places in the client journey where you can make it a much better experience. So I think one of the number one complaints that lawyers get is that they don’t communicate well. And so you know, if you can automate that communication, you can lend itself to a much smoother ride for yourself and your client and give them a better experience of what it’s like working with you. So the first step in the journey is always that initial contact, you know, they come to your website, they wanna get more information, it’s after hours, they’re stressed out, you’re not available. If there was a way to interact with them immediately, 24/7, 365, and have it reflect exactly your messaging, your brand and give them a taste of what your firm is like, what your personality is like, that would be fantastic, right? And then on top of it, you can get a lead out of it, follow up with a lead and then close them. Now, once they’re closed, now they’re a client. You could do client intake using the bot. And so there’s all the steps through the journey, like checking in if there’s a milestone, some new things happening, but you wanna explain to them what to expect at a deposition or a hearing. You could have the bot explaining that as well. And then on top of that, you could also include document automation. So if there’s any documents you need a client to provide information for, you could have the bot automate that and create those documents on the fly.
– Yeah, on the communication side I love this point of like, you know, helping lawyers be able to communicate, like kind of putting their best foot forward, because you get to kind of really think about it, do it once and then you get to be consistent, right? So you know, communication, you may have a great day of communication, you may have a bad day. You may have, like you said, you’re not available or it’s just you’re in between things. But if you can really think about that, like kind of, what’s the best message at this moment? And then it’s just consistent, right? You get that consistent communication going by automating.
– And so the way we try to do this, like the before picture of how lawyers are trying to do that right now is that, you know, best case scenario, they have standard operating procedures, right? How many people will actually do that? Not many, but hopefully they do have standard operating procedures and they have a script. And so if they start off a new assistant or a paralegal, here you go, this is how we do it, right? This is the checklist, this is the script, this is what you need to go through. Well, with the bot, what you’re kind of getting is a new employee that you train with literally the same material. Here’s the script. These are the questions you ask. This is the checklist of everything we need to gather first, before we can do whatever it is that we need to do. And so you’re right. You get to exactly streamline what that story is gonna be, exactly how it’s gonna be presented and get it right every single time. What’s better than that is that because this is a messaging application, there’s a record of every message back and forth. So from a lawyer standpoint, you know, lawyers are always worried about risk, right? Well, they don’t necessarily know what the assistant said to the client or what the paralegal might’ve said. Unless you’re recording every phone call, and then they have to go through it, and they have to find it. But when you have a chatbot, those messages back and forth, they’re all logged. And so if there’s ever any professional responsibility issue that comes up, you can look at it and you can say, “Hey, look, it said to you, I’m not a lawyer, I’m just gathering this information, you know, to possibly take you on as a client. You see where it said that? And see where you said, yes, I acknowledge that?” Well, that could come in real handy if there’s ever Questions.
– Right. Yeah. So I mean, there’s a lot of pain points and there’s probably, you know, like the case studies, you have over and over of all the different examples of ways to use it. I’m curious, you know, we’ll talk later, it just, you know, what are those ways people are using it that kind of like took you by surprise? But before we jump there, let’s talk about the actual platform itself, right? So the larger platform, like what exactly is it? What does it do? And how do people kind of like interact with it?
– So the first thing I should mention is that we worked on it for the past five years. And the way we worked on it is a little different. We didn’t build it from the top down saying, we think this is the best thing for you. The way we built it is we actually worked with different legal aid organizations. And they reached out to thousands of people that needed legal help. And so we helped them to build chatbots, to assist those people. And through all of those lessons, we slowly built out our own software service platform, which is what we have available now for lawyers to make their own solutions. And so all of this really comes from a lot of lessons learned. And from my experience as a lawyer, being able to translate between these two worlds of law and technology. And so the different things it could do, it can automate a conversation. It can gather information, save that into the system. It could generate documents on the fly. It can also integrate with a lot of other systems. It could integrate with Cleo, the Cleo managed CRM, a case management system. It also integrates with Clio Grow. So your leads come in, they go directly into the system, and most CRMs we can integrate with. And on top of that, we can also integrate into Zapier. And once you have that, you could extend practically thousands of applications.
– Right. Yeah, I love when people can implement and integrate with Zapier or Zapier. It just opens up that entire set of things like, well, do you integrate with this? Well, not natively, but you integrate with, you know, zaps and everything’s open for you. So that’s awesome. And I mean, the platform, you know, like there’s almost like people can kind of drag and drop and build their own kind of chatbots there, or are they requiring you guys to kind of code behind the scenes?
– Great question. So it’s a no-code platform, and we pride ourselves on its ease of use. We spend a lot of time getting it right, and we’re always open to improvement. But it is a drag and drop interface. If you can create a flow chart, you can create a bot. And if anyone ever has difficulty in putting it together themselves, we’re happy to reach out and provide them with training. We also have a done for you service. So if they don’t have the time to spend putting it together themselves, we can do it for them. And one other thing I’d mentioned about features just to step back to the prior question is that I think that’s really the honeypot there for what we do. So many attorneys, we really don’t have a choice, but to make decisions based on what we feel the numbers show, you know. A lot of times lawyers don’t have the actual numbers of how many cases are of this sub-category or this one, or that one, or as clients are going through their whole journey with the attorney, we don’t have feedback about every single step of the journey. Now, with what we do, the analytics that we gather, we actually know how people have answered every single question when they’re coming through the bot. So you hear a lot of talk about data-driven decisions, well, now we can actually do that because even from the get-go where somebody is interacting with the lead bot, where the bot is trying to capture them as lead, well, they get to categorize they’re interested in criminal law, PI, you know, workers’ compensation, and then after that, we can answer some additional questions that are associated with those practice areas. And so the lawyer gets to dive into all of those numbers and see where their clients are coming from, what kind of practice area help they need, and then how they’ve answered all of the additional questions that are thrown at them. And so they could make data-driven decisions based on the actual numbers that they see.
– That’s awesome. I mean, for those, you know, that is like some serious nuggets of information there in terms of having this ability to slice and dice. We talk about on GNGF Live, you know, we’ve had other shows where we talk about, you know, like vanity metrics and everybody, you know, thinks about like what their top line revenue is, or how many impressions our website has, which really don’t matter. But when you can like get into that operational data, like knowing, you know, this many percent of case is going certain way, the others… You can tag that to some profitability. Now you know which leads are actually turning into clients and what type of case, so is marketing working, right? Like having something that can track that on its own and all the other things it does is awesome. I never thought about that. That’s huge.
– Yeah. The automation is great. The document, you know, the automation of the conversation, the documents, all of that is great, but actually having that insight into how clients are actually interacting, what their interests are. And it makes you aware of a lot of different risks and pain points that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to uncover unless you have that actual data. So yeah, we’re really excited about that. And going back to the manifesto for a second, you know, part of it is also digital transformation. Our industry is one of the last to actually undergo digital transformation. And I think a lot of attorneys have a bit of fear about how to do that properly. Like how do you make that jump? And over the last 16 months, as you know, we’ve been dealing with this difficult situation of having to be available online and do it the right way. And I think a lot of people are turning to automation to be able to make that transition.
– Yeah. I mean, you’re right. Like we’ve had a massive leap in people like implementing technologies that they never even thought about before in the legal profession. And you know, one thing I see all the time and we talk about is like, I think a lot of people that actually went out and done that, but nobody’s really telling the consumer that they’re doing it, right? And there’s like, if consumers want to interact with a professional, you know, through more digital means, whether it’s a zoom meeting or whether it’s, you know, electronic signatures and documents that are in a portal or something, and you have that capability, like you should be telling everybody, ’cause that’s how consumers wanna work. I mean, it’d be a huge differentiator. Right? You know, so if I come to your website and see that things are being captured electronically with a chatbot and stuff, like I’m already inclined going, oh, that’s how I interact with like everything else I do. So I think that’s a differentiator for a law firm.
– Yeah. It really is. It really is, because people they become used to. I mean, it’s just the, go-to. When you wake up in the morning you look at your mobile phone and what’s going on today. You message your friends. You know, maybe we’re gonna grab coffee, if things are opening back up in your area and you can actually go and meet for coffee. But this is the way we interact with each other. And so that’s what we’ve taken advantage of is leveraging the messaging and using automation to make that much easier.
– So I wanna come back to that, cause you mentioned not replacing lawyers, right? But a lot of people get concerned when they start talking about technology and automating this and automating that, that, you know, we’re looking to eventually replace lawyers. Like what is your answer to that? ‘Cause I mean, I’ve heard that many times brought up and all along the way with this digital transformation.
– Yeah. I mean, it is a fear that gets kind of brought out every single time there’s a technological innovation. You know, back 100 years ago, the industrial revolution, people were worried about the same thing about bots, robots taking over. about mechanized machines just taking over the entire line of production. But the thing is that we’ve grown accustomed to that now, right? Like during the past 100 years, that didn’t happen. What happened is it allowed us to increase production actually. And for people to have more jobs, either working on the machines or making them better. And it’s freed people up to do more information work like we’re doing as lawyers, without having to be bound to one location or the other. And so it’s the same thing with the information age. I mean, what this has done is it’s allowed us to have a lot more freedom. I know attorneys myself included, who you know, you can go on vacation to Europe for a month, month and a half and be plugged into your office through your laptop, still be making money and be able to travel the world. I mean, that’s something that I think information workers have as a huge advantage. So the replacing lawyers is really just a fear, but I think once you really experience it practically and what it could do, you realize that it’s not gonna replace you, that what it actually does is it allows you to extend your reach for you to do more with less. And I think if we look back at the analogy of somebody doing mechanical work, I think a farmer probably appreciated the machines that allowed them to not have to break their back shoveling all day long. So it’s the same thing for lawyers. If we can avoid the shoveling and replace that with a machine that could do that part for us, I believe it’d be much appreciated.
– Well, and not just for the lawyer. I mean, like think about the staff at a law firm, right? Instead of having to ask that exact same question over and over and over every time on the intake, or on the, you know, the new client, opening the files and stuff. Like if you offload that to the technology, then they’re able to work on maybe the exceptions or the more complex issues, or you know, the things that you do need the human person to kind of like, you know, use their brain on. That’s probably gotta be a better job for somebody too, to be in that position than to be in that kind of like just really admin level, ask a question, get an answer position.
– I totally agree. I think especially solo or small firm attorneys, that it is an issue when they don’t have enough time in the day to do everything. You know, they wanna take on more work. They wanna do more, but they’re kind of tied down by the day to day stuff that they have to do. And with this technology, you could free them from that day to day chain around their neck and free them up to do the more interesting things and probably make like their whole professional experience more rewarding for them by you know, freeing them up from that busy work.
– I love it. Well, on that note, I mean, we are running out of time on our Facebook portion here. So if you can stick with me, so I have a lot more questions I’d love to, you know, if you’d stick with me, ask some more questions we can put on our YouTube channel on the extended interview. Cause we try to keep our Facebook promise to our audience around 20 minutes or so. But if you don’t mind, will that work?
– Hey, I’d be delighted to stick around.
– Awesome. Well, before I go, though, Tom, where can people find and connect with you?
– Yeah, so my email address is Tom@lawdroid.com or you could just check out my website at Lawdroid.com and learn more about our automation platform and how it can help you out. And one last one is you can follow me on Twitter @LawDroid.
– Awesome. Well, thanks Tom, stick with me one moment.
– Thanks for joining us today, everyone. And be sure to like, and subscribe to our Facebook page so you get notified when our next episode goes live. We have new interviews about law firm marketing and the business side of running your firm here every other Wednesday. We’re gonna keep on going here and the GNGF Studios, you can watch the full extended interview with Tom Martin this Friday over on our YouTube channel. We’ll be diving into a lot more detail about where the practice of law is even heading. We’ll see you then.
– Well, Tom, thanks for sticking with me.
– Yeah, happy to be here, Mark.
– So some of the questions I didn’t get to, one I wanted to know is, you know, you talked about LawDroid and capturing, maybe going into like an intake system, like Clio Grow or CRM. How do you differentiate LawDroid from maybe other kind of lead capture solutions?
– Yeah, I get that often. And I actually have thought about that for awhile. The way we’re different really is that we’re a no-code automation platform. So lead capture is one of the things we do. We think we do it really well, but we can actually automate many different parts of the entire client journey. So it’s not just lead capture, although that’s incredibly important. And we focused on it, you know, our go to market because we know that that’s very close to value for the lawyers, right? They’re gonna be making money off of that lead if they convert to a client. But the next step about intake, so actually once they become a client lead capturing that information and putting it into the case management system, you know, that part’s equally important. You need to have that so that when you have your first face-to-face, you know, in person or video call, you wanna be prepared. The milestones throughout the case. Those are important to keep in touch with your client. Remember I mentioned communication is probably the biggest bar complaint. Well, you could really cut against that by communicating well during the case with your client. And then at the end of it, you might have some documents that you generate for your client and also reaching out to ask for reviews. So that entire spectrum of the client experience is what we can help lawyers automate. And that doesn’t remove them from the process, it just means that the baseline of what they need is gonna be taken care of. And then they could add, you know, gravy that really specialized experience on top of it.
– Right, yeah. And again, I love this idea of like, it’s just, you know that you’re gonna get the consistent message that you’ve determined up front as important every step of the way. I’m sure that leads to probably a lot of better referrals too, because that’s a much more pleasing experience for a consumer, a client. So what are some of the risks then of, you know, like if you said, you know, there’s a digital transformation happening and stuff, there’s still a lot of people like nervous or don’t have time or haven’t implemented. What are the risks of kind of sticking around and doing it the old fashioned way?
– So I think that’s a great question because it’s something that’s invisible to lawyers, right? Because if you’re doing it the way you’ve always done it, then you don’t really appreciate the risks because you’re used to the risks. That doesn’t mean there’s no risks. It means that they become invisible to you because you’ve become accustomed to them. And so what I see as some of the risks are number one, you might go out of business. You know, things might seem all right, but if you’re not doing that perpetual outreach and communicating, engaging with people, getting them in the door, there’s only so many hours in the day.
– [Mark] Right.
– And a lawyer, you know, even with staff, can’t be there 24/7, 365 to engage with people that might be interested in their services, they just can’t do it. So going out of business is one of them. Number two, is that the consistent communication that leads to part bar complaints. Well, if you wanna maintain that consistent communication, again, you can’t be there at all hours of the day. So why not have the automated help? So beyond communication, I think that another risk is that, like I mentioned, when you have this communication with a bot, you have a log, you have something to fall back on, you have proof, evidence. Lawyers love evidence. Well, if you don’t have that, you don’t have evidence. You have, he said, she said, and that might not be good enough in court to defend yourself. So those are the risks about just doing it the way it’s always been done. And I wish that more lawyers were aware of that.
– And it’s interesting too, if you think about like, you know, this is just how change happens over time, right? As more people have this documentation behind them, because, Hey, I have the chats, I have everything put here, you can see exactly what happened. It’s almost gonna become the expectation of somebody who doesn’t have that. It’s like, well, why don’t you have that? I mean like, you can get this level of information. You should have that level of information. So almost brings the expectations of those kinds of professional conduct operations and you know, just general competency up.
– I agree.
– Awesome. Awesome. So the ideas here of, you know, being somebody who’s, you know, practice law and now is like, you know, like a legal technology, you know, in the throws of all the legal technology companies here going on, and you’re on Twitter a lot, I see you out there, you know, like always forwarding and passing on some really information. What are your thoughts on where the practice of law is going in five years with this kind of digital transformation and other things going on?
– Well, the digital transformation, which I will get more in depth into, in the LawDroid manifesto, which is coming out in September, I think that what we’re gonna see in five years… And by the way, what we’ve seen over the past 16 months is probably what we would have seen over the next five years.
– [Mark] Yeah.
– But that said, the next five years, my belief, it’s not nothing extraordinary. It’s just that what we’re seeing in legal is gonna start to reflect what’s happening in the general marketplace. You know, like fortune 500 companies, they’re using this kind of automation day in, day out. It’s not a big deal. It’s not a big thing. Consumers love it because they get immediate answers to their questions. There’s been surveys that show that over 60% of people prefer that because they get immediate answers and so consumers want it. And that’s the way it is right now in every other industry, in legal, and that’s the way it’s gonna be in five years.
– That’s awesome. Yeah, the idea of that, like you said, like digital transformation moving so fast in the last, you know, like 16, 18 months kind of being equivalent to what it probably would have been in five years, but now we sped ahead. So I love this idea of, but that’s what Bezos is already doing. So it’s like, we think we sped ahead, but really we’re still playing catch up, right, in this profession. So I did wanna kind of like follow along that kind of like legal technology side of thing here. You are co-founder of the American Legal Technology Awards. And you know, obviously you and Jeff were very excited about it and you know, we’re happy to jump on as a sponsor and love it. But for those that really don’t know about this, you know, talk about like what it is, but also how it came to be. I think that’s a really interesting story.
– Yeah. I’m happy to do that. And we’re very appreciative of GNGF being a sponsor. And you know what we’re really trying to do is we’re trying to honor those that are really trying to make a difference in the legal industry and to innovate, right? So following through on the message that I’ll be broadcasting through the LawDroid manifesto about change in the industry in digital transformation, the American Legal Technology Awards is meant to honor those that are innovating in legal. And so my co-founders are Kat Moon and Patrick Palace. They’re great friends and also co-founders with me. It all started when Patrick and I, we were nominated for an award at the British Legal Technology Awards, which we attended in London over two years ago now. And when we were standing there, because the Brits, they really know how to do it. They have black tie affair. I mean, it was like going to a wedding. Right?
– [Mark] Right. Right.
– Yeah, they had a comedian on stage who was hosting the event and it was a fantastically fun time. And it occurred to both of us that we couldn’t understand why we didn’t have something like that here in the United States.
– [Mark] Right.
– And the thing is we have a lot of conferences. We have a lot of legal technology conferences, but we don’t have a party. And so the idea to have something like the Oscars for legal tech was what we came back with. Now, as we all know, COVID kind of put a damper on that. And last year was virtual, this year again is virtual. The awards are gonna come out in November, but we’re very excited to highlight those companies, lawyers, courts, and individuals that are really trying to make a difference in the law for the better.
– Awesome. Yeah. And I think you sent, we have a mug I think on our bookshelf back here. So it’s the American Legal Technology Awards. And that was great last year. I mean, and very excited. I mean, again, like we’re happy to sponsor just because it’s trying to show not just the legal technology vendor did something cool, but how people are actually doing something different and trying new things and push the envelope a little bit in the legal profession. Like I said, even courts, you know, like that was real interesting. You know, some of the judges what they were doing and you know, opened my eyes to a lot of the kind of, you know, boots on the ground, things happening versus like you said, the legal technology conferences where things are going, but actually seeing people implementing was, I think what we were really proud about as a sponsor. So I’m very excited for it. Very excited to see the list of winners here again coming in November. So very exciting. So thanks so much for chatting with me and sticking with me for I know, way longer than we initially planned, but I really appreciate it, Tom.
– Thank you so much, Mark. I really appreciate being here and getting to talk with you about these things.
– Hey, what’s up? I’m Josh. Thanks so much for joining us. If you feel like you learned something today, think of how beneficial it would be to chat with myself or another one of our marketing consultants one-on-one. Go ahead and visit our website to schedule your free consultation, it only takes a minute.