Using User Persona’s in Legal Ops

Bernadette Mcdonald

I recently posted about designing user personas for a legal ops training course and I got quite a few messages asking me what a User Persona is.

What is a User Persona?

A user persona is a representation of a client type. A well-prepared user persona helps focus a law firm on their target market and satisfy their client’s needs.
I can hear law firms lining up now for the unicorn dust that will satisfy their client’s needs.
To the average law firm, a User Persona is a hybrid of a marketing tool and a client care mechanism which focuses on how our clients are using our services, whether this is our website, automation tools or traditional things such as our reception services or our processes. As the creator of a User Persona, it is up to you to decide what the persona is to focus on.

Let’s take an example

Firm A wants to review its new instruction conversion rate. They have the same conversion funnel for all departments. They compare the conversion rate of the Corporate department with that of the Wills department and see that far more calls are converted for Wills than for business contracts.
They create a User Persona for Wills. They decide that for the typical Wills client they attract (simple estates) the key driver is price. Whereas for the typical business client it’s about trust/relationship and quality of knowledge and maybe a bit of status of the lawyer.
All incoming enquiries are handled by the receptionist who has a menu of prices and can easily tell the Wills client the fee but can’t really get enough information to understand what it is the business client wants and needs. By considering the views of a User Persona they have easily identified an operational issue.

This sounds simple and obvious, yes?

But it is surprising how many law firms don’t stop and look at their processes through the eyes of the client. The user persona makes you stop and think like client.

How does it help Legal Ops?

Legal operations covers a multitude of tasks (I see you legal ops people!) but one role of Ops that everyone is familiar with is the designing of processes. Most people assume that Ops focus is on efficiency and risk, how to do things quicker and cheaper with the Ops team shouting ‘scale up’ at every opportunity. But, in reality when we think of risk, we don’t just consider negligence as a risk but also client satisfaction.
What is the point of designing a cost saving process if the buyer of our services is left out of the process design. In an ideal world, every process would be designed with all stakeholders – law firm management, staff and clients, but this isn’t always possible. User Persona’s represent the client in the design process. By designing our processes using our User Persona and focusing on the user experience, we can design better processes for the clients benefit. After all, without the client there would be no law firm.

Have I convinced you yet?

Creating User Personas can be as simple or as detailed as you like and they can be very illuminating, and fun, to create. Why not take an hour and post it notes, go into the meeting room and have some fun. Creating a good User Persona takes a team of people as each will have a different perspective.

If you would like a template to get started with, email me and I can share a great legal User Persona template with you.

I would love to see some of your examples.

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