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‘Lawyers need to improve on’ client experience

For this principal and former proptech founder, understanding tech challenges and keeping up with emerging news in the sector has been enormously beneficial, both in terms of his own knowledge and improving client experience and service delivery.

user iconLauren Croft 04 May 2023 SME Law
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Chris Elias is the founder and principal of Celia Legal. Speaking recently on The Boutique Lawyer Show, Mr Elias emphasised the importance of knowing your subject matter as a specialised firm owner or lawyer — and how having this knowledge can positively impact the client experience.   

Mr Elias studied at UTS Law School, where he developed an interest in tech — and later founded his own tech company, Bsmarter, which ended up being a proptech, property technology for the real estate space. From there, he moved into fintech and Web3 before establishing Celia Legal as an industry-focused firm.

To support his tech clients day-to-day, Mr Elias has found that keeping up with new and emerging technologies is of the utmost importance, and he “carves out” time each day to read and consume information, which he said “never stops”.


“Not only do you have to read to keep up with the law, but when you are focusing on an industry, it’s also important to keep up to date with what’s happening with the technology, the market, the players in the market. That is also really important as well. So, reading and catching up on sort of news and current affairs in that space is super important,” he said.

“The way I’ve sort of designed it is I spend the first hour of my morning just reading some articles that talk about some emerging trends. They could be about a particular type of technology that I’m not totally aware of, so I want to learn more about that, so I’ll focus on that as well. But I always spend at least an hour a day just reading articles and material like that. But it’s important, whilst doing that, to also read news just so you’re up to date with everything.”

More importantly, however, Mr Elias also uses and tests out new technology himself to better understand what his clients are working with, as well as attending industry events to make new connections.

“In Web3, in crypto, there is something coming out every day that’s new, that’s slightly new, that’s an improvement of the previous version. And look, it’s very easy to try and experiment and play around with. And most cases, I will play around with the technology that [my client’s] trying to build and the technology that the competitors are building.

“And then that gives me a more comprehensive view of what they’re doing. So that when it comes time to actually delivering legal services, I have a really good understanding of the solution that they’re putting out into the market. If they need advice in a certain area, I spend less time on discovery and fact finding, and I can ask better questions to the client and then deliver the service in a little bit more of an efficient way,” he quipped.

“Attend some industry events as well. There’s no shortage of events happening online and in person, so they are really good to just go in and attend. It’s nice to show your face at these things and meet people. And then, off the back of that, then you have networks in that industry [and] you can develop friendships from that as well. And then, when you need something, potentially, you need some sort of second opinion or further insight, you just call on them and ask them a question, and they can help you out there.”

Understanding this tech, as a lawyer, means that Mr Elias is able to implement more effective solutions for his clients, which then “add more value to the practice and then create a better client experience”.

“Client experience, in general, is something that I think lawyers need to improve on. And I think a lot of new-age lawyers understand this a little bit better. People who understand the concept of creating a better client experience, that goes a long way with clients, and they really appreciate having a really seamless and efficient and just overall pleasurable experience with the lawyer.

“For simple things like booking a meeting with your lawyer, you can use a tool like Calendly, for example, and just have a meeting automatically booked. They can find availability in your schedule. So, you’ve created a really seamless experience in the setting up of a meeting rather than emailing back and forth, and maybe that can last over a number of hours to a few days sometimes. When you use technology and you have an interest in technology, then again, you can look to find ways that you can integrate that into your business,” he explained.

“Another one, which is fairly simple as well, is Slack. I’ve experimented with some clients who I do a lot more work with on a regular basis where I’ve just added myself as a member of their team. They’ve just put me into their Slack, which is an internal messaging system. And various people in the company can ask me questions here and there, or I can funnel requests and then seek clarity on the questions or at least lower the barrier to entry into me, effectively.”

While Mr Elias noted that artificial intelligence (AI) tools, like ChatGPT, can also be useful for simple improvements, for lawyers working in fintech and Web3, having a good understanding of that technology is especially important for client service delivery.

“When the client is explaining to you, this is what we do, this is how it works, and this is what we need help with, rather than spending so much time asking questions about basics of the solution or really fundamental questions relating to the technology solution or the commercial model or anything related to that, you can bypass that,” he said.

“And a lot of clients that I’ve worked with and speak to me, a common bit of feedback is [that] it’s so nice not having to repeat and explain basic concepts about crypto or blockchain to someone, and then the client having to pay for that. Because, again, lawyers have their hourly rate model. But that’s a common bit of feedback.”

Lawyers in all kinds of practice areas can emulate this, according to Mr Elias, who said that being able to service clients exceptionally means more than just knowing “the legal stuff”.

“Take the time to understand the tech and how that works. I think that will go a long way, and your clients will again appreciate that when you can have a conversation at that level. I think people can definitely have a better understanding of the domain that they practice in, for sure,” he added.

“[And] also being open to using technology in the operations of your firm as well. I would always be on the lookout for new tools that can help your business or help your firm operate a little bit more efficiently and try it out. Run a bit of an experiment, do it for a month or two, or three months maybe. And again, just always look to improve on that. And if you can find areas where you can improve in terms of efficiency, reduce operational costs, or sort of admin overhead, then yeah, why wouldn’t you?”

The transcript of this podcast episode was slightly edited for publishing purposes. To listen to the full conversation with Chris Elias, click below:


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