Lex Foris started the conversion to a digital environment years ago, a process that is coming to its final by the end of this year when Lex Foris will be operating most common services fully online. The most recent implementation are the new online meeting rooms. We have asked our managing partner, Roeland van Passel, his reasons for this advanced program and the way it affects the service rendered.
When did you start this program?
It started in Denmark, 1995, where I was introduced to internet as an exchange student abroad to communicate with my home university. My Master was about digital law and legal software, a completely new area. This is when I realised the immense possibilities of internet. We were the first law practise in Holland with a web site and for that I had to learn html programming and how internet works.
It seems you have come along way, why is that?
Throughout the years our firm has stayed ahead of the digital evolution, although at a tempered pace, since society was not ready to go at the speed we were. From 2000 onwards, all our incoming correspondence was scanned, to reduce the use of paper. In 2006 we started developing our own software. Then the financial crisis came and with it we had to freeze additional investments. We picked up in 2014 were we left but all programming from 2006-2008 was obsolete. The programmers were not available anymore and we had to start from scratch, both developing the firm and the software. My partners were not able to keep up, so I had to do it on my own, hence a low budget, plus I had limited time. Remember that alongside I was also running the growing firm and expanding the business.
In the end I think it has been for the better because it was a huge learning curve that we only suffered from within. Our clients have never noticed anything, but they will benefit from better software without the frustrating of beginners’ errors.
What about the physical office spaces, will they disappear?
Part of the reservations we have had to come to this point of going fully digital is the perception by outsiders. We noticed that people did not take you serious as a professional if you didn’t have many offices on different locations. Our business model is based on trust, and how can you trust an online firm, right? It has taken a long time for people in general to accept our kind of business to have an almost 100% digital presence, but I think this worldwide lockdown situation has really pushed things over the edge.
How will clients benefit from this digitalisation?
Well, to start, we have lowered our tariffs by 50% this year in several main areas of services ahead of implementing the software. The reason is that if some processes are controlled by software, our professionals save time and the client saves money.
It seems only fair that our clients benefit too. With most of them we have a long-lasting relationship. If we reinvest in the firm some of the fees they pay us, they should benefit from the return as well.
What about the personal touch? Not every client appreciates to have to deal with software or talk through a screen.
We are aware of the balance between efficiency and need for personal dedication to a client’s needs. Regretfully Spain is a country where everything seems to take twice as much time. Simple administrative procedures take up a lot of time, which makes a full personal involvement so expensive. I believe our clients will understand that certain simple administrative procedures can be computerised without loss of quality of service. Besides, it can save them money. On top of that our clients know that actual people work behind the screen who are willing to pay personal attention if needed.
As for video conferences, we actually implemented these since skype was born, more than 20 years ago and until this stage we have never had any complaint. Our clients see the benefits in time saving and understand that our time is better spend on their case than traveling to meet them in person.
Will the digital office be mandatory for all clients?
No, not at all, every client that wants the services rendered old style will continue to receive them this way. Those who are willing to switch to the digital office will have full assistance in the changeover and will be led through it step by step. But in any case, we will have professionals in the back office vigilant of our clients’ interests and ready to show a real human face whenever is requested.