Lawyers Are Borrowing This Technology from Doctors – And That’s a Good Thing

At ClientLegalEd, we believe that some of the greatest advancements come from taking an already-proven idea and applying it in a new context. This is especially relevant when it comes to doctors and lawyers and the people they serve. Doctors are well-educated individuals who speak an elevated professional language. Medicine is a complicated field where nuance and detail matter. And yet, doctors serve regular people. Lawyers face a similar challenge. Especially in those consumer-facing practice areas where clients are one-off users of legal services, clients know very little about the legal process. In both cases, the distance between the professional and the client creates a serious education gap.

The Medical Profession Leads In Patient Education

In recent years, the medical field has addressed this issue head-on. Doctors, hospitals and medical practitioners have worked to develop patient education solutions to improve satisfaction and outcomes. Patient education is a broad term that encompasses a range of digital tools, teachings and follow-up methods designed to provide better care to patients. It often takes the form of educational videos and interactive education portals that help patients fully understand their conditions, diagnoses, and treatments.

Of course, a good doctor will explain what a patient needs to know, but words are abstract and ephemeral. Patients are often intimidated and afraid to ask questions. And professional educators know that even under the very best of circumstances, an audience only absorbs a fraction of what you tell them anyway. Add to this a situation in which the audience is already under stress, worrying about their condition or suffering in pain, and you get a recipe for anxiety and miscommunication that can undermine a patient’s outcome.

The solution is an educational resource customized for a patient’s individual needs. A resource that employs visual aids and animations that help a patient know exactly what to expect, as well as what is expected of them. Many medical providers have already put this into practice, acquiring educational content and platforms from an expanding ecosystem of providers. Millions of patients now have on-demand access to valuable medical information tailored to their needs.

Lawyers Face Similar Challenges

In the consumer-facing legal profession, we face a similar set of challenges. We are busy professionals who speak a special language. We immerse ourselves in rules, procedures and strategies that, while often mundane to us, are undeniably alien to the people we represent. No doubt we explain at least some of these concepts to our clients, and some might even claim that we are better communicators than many in the medical field. But our words are no less ephemeral. If an audience remembers only a fraction of what they are told at the best of times, consider that our clients hardly retain us because they are experiencing the best of times. They are often suffering from painful injuries or experiencing a difficult life transition. They are often entangled in a lawsuit, an incredibly stressful ordeal.

Frankly, it is not reasonable for us to expect our clients to remember everything we tell them during an intake meeting, or to expect them to memorize every line of a standardized boilerplate engagement agreement. And it is not fair for us to become frustrated if they place frequent calls to ask repetitive questions, or forget to mention a witness or injury. It is not intentional self sabotage if they give a recorded statement to an adjuster after we instruct them not to, or forget to forward us a medical lien letter after we told them it was important. The legal system is complex, and we should do everything we can to make the process transparent, accessible, and easy to understand. Doing so will reduce client anxiety and improve case outcomes, to say nothing of reducing our own malpractice risk.

It’s Time For Client Education

It’s amazing how often doctors and lawyers are lumped together – the twin pillars of American professionalism. And yet, it seems that in many ways, the medical field has outpaced us – not just in creating new and innovative treatments, but in providing the best customer experience and care to the people they serve. At ClientLegalEd, we aim to give lawyers the tools and content they need to make client education a cornerstone of the legal profession.

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