Kevin O’Keefe makes a strong case against law firms building custom apps in an article titled, Why Your Law Firm Should Forget About Building An Iphone App. In short, his reasons against custom apps are:
- Your law firm’s app will never get found or used widely
- The logic for developing an app for content distribution (ie: your blog and website articles and information) is flawed. People are gravitating towards using apps that aggregate content such as Zite, Kindle, or Flipboard. They don’t want to, nor are they going to, download a separate app for each blog or website they visit.
Kevin suggests getting your firm’s blog on Kindle or connecting into networks such as JD Supra or Lexblog where people are aggregating content by subject.
In my experience, the majority of apps I have seen from law firms are basically reproductions of a law firm website in app form. I agree with Kevin that an app that is simply your website or blog, reproduced is a waste of time, money, and resources. However, I have come across a couple of law firm apps recently that are attempting to do something different.
An App For An Internet Law Attorney
Robert Ambrogi wrote about an a solo attorney, Aaron Kelly, that produced a clever app for his clients. Robert explains the app in more detail:
The app is designed to give Kelly’s clients access to information about their cases. To this end, the app features integration with both file-sharing site Dropbox and project-management site Basecamp. With the integration of those tools, the app lets clients review their documents and check the status of their matters. The app also integrates PayPal, so that clients can use it to pay their invoices.
The app also includes features you might expect. It allows users to follow the firm’s news and blog posts and to follow its Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn feeds. The app can be used to launch a live chat with someone at the firm. It can also be used by a non-client to submit a case for evaluation.
Robert goes on to say that he likes the app because it actually serves a function for Mr. Kelly's clients that doesn't exist simply by visiting his website. The fact that Mr. Kelly practices internet law means his clients are more tech savvy and likely to appreciate having access to case information via their mobile device.
An App For A Personal Injury Lawyer
Van Wey law has created a free car wreck app. The firm provides this description of the app:
Van Wey Law is offering consumers its free Car Wreck App, an application for your iPhone that can store your vehicle and insurance information, help you find a tow truck company, and make emergency calls after you've been in an accident. You can also store audio and video content and create a personalized accident report.
All of the information you store in your App will remain confidential. Van Wey Law will not receive any of your stored information unless you decide to send it to us.
Aren't sure whether you need an attorney? You can simply send the information you collect and store in the Van Wey Law Car Wreck App to Van Wey Law for review. Kay L. Van Wey will personally review what you send and let you know whether you have a case.
This app is providing additional benefit to the user beyond just a blog feed or access to the website.
My Questions To You
Do you think that apps are worth the investment for law firms? Are the apps above marketing gimmicks or is there a real ROI in producing custom apps for law firms?
I'd love to hear your thoughts.