Engage is a web application that helps prospective clients looking to instruct a family lawyer put together all the information they require ahead of a first meeting; ensuring the family lawyer can provide bespoke advice at the initial consultation.
Engage assists prospective clients to prepare, online, for a first consultation.
It communicates the information to the family lawyer before the consultation, with key aspects of the matter highlighted to reduce known risk factors for the lawyer. Engage encourages a deeper engagement for the client when they first meet with a family lawyer.
Unlike Word documents or PDF questionnaires which are, in the main, static documents. Engage is an online web application that personalises questions for your prospective client only asking the questions that are relevant to their specific situation. It also uses contextual help to prepare the prospective client for the initial consultation. Once submitted the report is presented to the family lawyer with a snapshot of significant factors that static documents do not allow. You and your prospective client both benefit from feeling prepared ahead of the first meeting.
Yes, it covers the most common areas of family law including cohabitation cases. It does not cover adoption, surrogacy or care proceedings.
The prospective client is sent a weblink with a username and password specific to your firm, which they then access via their chosen web browser. Engage is a web application and so does not ‘sit’ on a user’s PC or Mac, neither does it require the user to download anything onto their computer.
No. Engage is a web application. Our experience is that clients will not tolerate being asked to download applications that may, for instance, only work with a particular version of Windows or not at all on a Mac.
Users (prospective clients) will be able to navigate Engage more easily if they gather some basic information beforehand, such as mortgage balances or asset values, but it is not essential. We prompt users at the start of the journey on the information they may want to have to hand.
No. There are only a few questions marked as 'required' which means users must answer them. But we encourage users to answer all the questions as fully as possible because this means a family lawyer will be fully prepared for their first consultation. As all family lawyers know, the devil is often in the detail.
Yes. prospective clients can upload any documents they are prompted to provide. This is where your feedback is helpful. At the moment, for example, Engage allows a user to upload a solicitor’s letter, assuming the receipt of such a letter is often the catalyst to seek advice. We have found it helpful to see such a letter in advance. There may be other documents the pilot group would find it helpful to see in advance. Generally, we have restricted users’ ability to upload a voluminous number of documents.
We only allow uploads for specified documents that should be the property of the user. Additionally, we provide guidance on Imerman, at an appropriate part of the Engage journey, to avoid having the prospective client walking into your office with documents that could compromise your ability to assist them.
There is no standard time just as there is no standard client type. It depends on the complexity of the matter and how prepared the client is before starting Engage. Some prospective clients, the majority, complete Engage in one sitting. Some clients take 3 or 4 sessions to complete Engage. Engage invites the user to reflect upon their situation and provides contextual help to prepare for the first consultation.
We have a dedicated telephone and email support service to assist users with any technical issues. The Engage technical support team will handle all issues in the delivery of Engage. We will not offer legal advice or views upon an individual’s circumstances. We will leave the law to the family lawyers.
Two things happen when a user completes their Engage submission.
First, they will receive a personalised email from Engage (branded with each firm’s credentials) providing them with a copy of their submission for their records and advising that their chosen firm will be considering the submission before the first consultation.
Second, they will be asked to complete a 60 seconds feedback form on their experience with Engage.
A PDF copy of the prospective client’s submission via email, together with a short summary of key aspects of the matter, highlighted to reduce risk factors for the lawyer.
Most users are able to complete Engage in this way but Engage is currently not optimised specifically for mobile but will be in due course. We will strongly recommend using a desktop or laptop for the completion of Engage.
No. It is free of charge to your prospective clients.
A work-related email account. We will use test emails in the set-up phase to ensure Engage emails are not being caught in any anti-spam protection software installed at your Firm.
Prospective clients are increasingly demanding greater efficiencies from their lawyers. Spending at least an hour in a first consultation gathering basic details such as names, addresses, or phone numbers is not a good use of your extensive skill-sets and training, nor your client’s money. Research from The Law Society, MOJ and Legal Services Board shows that clients value the advice and guidance that family lawyers can offer. This is the value you can offer your client from the outset if you have an Engage submission beforehand. Prospective clients are more likely to instruct you having been given the benefit of tailored, specific advice at an early stage of the consultation. You can focus on the client as 95% of the information you need has already been captured.
Engage allows for a deeper engagement at the first meeting. You can listen to your client to understand their needs and expectations and develop your relationship with them. You may be the first person they have really opened up to and they may want to tell their “story” rather than be interrupted with questions as per the ‘traditional’ first consultation. They experience you in your advisory, not fact finding, role and our experience is that this improves the first face-to-face experience they have with you and your Firm.
The process normally involves two parts.
To begin with, most prospective clients make contact by telephone. They will therefore encounter either a receptionist, a specialist gatekeeper or a family law team member. Regardless of who speaks to prospective clients at your Firm, the crucial thing is to make sure whoever performs this function has a consistent approach to explaining what Engage is and its benefits. Engage has been in continual use since July 2014 so guidance on how to position the benefits of the application can be made available.
The second, complementary part, is to follow up the telephone call as most family law teams will do, with an email confirming the booking of an appointment in which a weblink to Engage can be inserted. Most of the firms using Engage will have pre-existing templates for email communications following an initial telephone enquiry. However, we are happy to share a suggested email template for this purpose which can be customised to each firm’s in-house style.
No, at present all we ask for is your honest feedback. We will advise of any plans to charge for Engage once further development work has been completed
Yes. We have appropriate certification in place from the Data Commissioner for England & Wales.
The web connection to Engage is protected by a SSL (secure socket layer) which is the same software used to protect credit and debit card payments online. Each firm will be furnished with a unique reference so prospective client submissions will only be routed back to the firm who introduced that specific client. Each firm will be furnished with a unique password that allows their prospective clients, and their clients alone, to access Engage.
A user submission in Engage can only be accessed by an individual user. It is not possible for a user to see any other user submissions. Equally, it is not possible for a firm to see the submissions made by the prospective clients of another firm.
Any stored data (from completed or partially completed user submissions) will only be accessible to: Alan Larkin, Sam Paul or Lucy Fowler and the only envisaged purpose for doing so is to recover a user’s submission at the specific request of a user or the specific request of a firm.
Any technical personnel authorised by us to carry out work on the Family Law Lab site will be unable to access any stored user data.
Beyond the capturing of any anonymised data (subject to each user’s specific consent) the database containing the complete and partially completed prospective client submission will be totally erased within 30 days of the end of the pilot (defined as 30 days from the last successful user submission).
Engage is stored on a server within the EU/EEA region
Absolutely not. The primary purpose of Family Law Lab is to make it easier for people with family law needs to obtain quality advice from regulated, insured and highly skilled family law firms.
We will ask users if they would agree to the anonymised use of their data. This would be solely for the purposes of developing further applications in family law or to allow for data-driven submissions to government or regulatory authorities, where legislative or regulatory change is being mooted and where the family law community is concerned that the interests of family law clients have been insufficiently considered.
Family Law Lab is the company behind Engage. It is a platform that will hold bespoke applications designed for the public and the family law legal profession for the following purposes:
Aside from Engage, we have several other projects under development, two of which have reached prototype stage. We may run pilots in relation to these applications in 2020.
If you have any further questions please do contact us:
Follow us on Twitter: @familylawlab