The Evolution of Client Expectations: A Perspective for Established Legal Experts

The Evolution of Client Expectations: A Perspective for Established Legal Experts

The Estateably Team
March 13, 2024

If you’re a seasoned trust and estates professional, you might have noticed a shift in your clientele. Could they be getting younger?

If so, you’re not imagining it. Millennials, born between 1981 and 1996, are entering their peak earning years, with the eldest members of this generation now in their 40s. Not only that, but an estimated 58% of this cohort already have an estate plan in place.

Experienced legal professionals have an opportunity to engage with a whole new generation of clients. However, if your law firm has been built around the needs of Generation X and baby boomers, you might need to adapt your operations to meet evolving client expectations.

Delving Deeper into the Millennial Mindset

Often referred to as Gen Y or the Echo Boomers, millennials have been molded by different experiences compared to their predecessors. They are digital natives, fluent in the language of the internet and social media, and they prioritize convenience, transparency, and personalization. They are characterized by diversity in terms of race, ethnicity, gender identity, and sexual orientation, resulting in a heightened emphasis on inclusivity and social justice in their decision-making and values.

Millennials have also experienced their share of financial challenges. They were significantly impacted by the Great Recession of 2008 and more recently, the economic repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic. These experiences have led to high levels of financial anxiety and a conservative approach to money management. Yet, it also means they are eager to plan and secure their financial future.

When it comes to consumer activity, millennials are value-driven, favoring businesses that align with their ethical beliefs. They highly value authenticity and transparency, and they expect customer experiences to be as seamless and immediate as their daily digital interactions. The challenge for law firms lies in understanding and adapting to these unique characteristics, thereby aligning their services with the needs and expectations of this significant demographic.

Practical Strategies for Bridging the Generation Gap

To effectively serve the needs of your millennial clients, it may be necessary to make changes to your law firm's operations and approach. Consider these suggestions:

1. Embrace Modern Technology

Given that younger generations (and Generation Z in particular) have grown up online, is it any wonder that they expect seamless and convenient online interactions? According to Gartner, for example, 38% of millennial and Generation Z consumers will give up on a customer service issue if they can’t resolve it using self-service.

So, it’s crucial for your firm to adopt tech that’s easy to use, intuitive, and gives clients immediate access to information. Consider integrating virtual meeting platforms, e-signatures, and secure online document sharing to enhance convenience and bring your practice up to speed.

2. Adopt New Communication Styles

If you’re looking to appeal to a new generation of clients, it’s worth paying attention to your communication style. Millennials are more informal than older generations, and they appreciate honesty and transparency. Consider eliminating jargon-heavy legalese and make your communications as clear as possible.

Remember, communication is not just about what you say, but about where you say it. For instance, a recent survey revealed that 75% of millennials avoid phone calls because they are time-consuming.  Instead, think about communicating with younger generations where they are—on social media, messaging apps, and texts. They expect the same seamless transitions in their professional interactions as they have in their personal lives.

3. Implement Educational Approaches

With the Great Wealth Transfer around the corner—an estimated $84 trillion expected to be passed down over the next 20 years—Millennials and Generation Z stand to benefit significantly. Traditional law firms have an important role to play in educating the younger generation about wealth transfer. This includes guiding them in managing the wealth that they inherit and helping them plan their own legacies.

While younger generations increasingly get financial information from social media and online sources, they also seek professional advice for reassurance and peace of mind. Adopting an educational approach can be key to engaging these clients, especially when dealing with complex topics such as trust and estates law.

4. Offer Personalized Experiences

Above all, remember that one size does not fit all. What works for one generation may not resonate with another, so modern law firms need to be able to adapt to different communication styles and expectations. Baby boomers might prefer a formally worded email, while their millennial counterparts might be perfectly content exchanging messages through a dedicated customer portal.

As you evolve your practice to accommodate a new demographic, consider embracing technology that allows you to tailor your services to each client’s unique needs.

Bridge the Generation Gap with Estateably

Legacy technology just won’t cut it when it comes to helping millennial clients navigate trust and estates matters. To stay relevant in an evolving market, law firms must consider integrating new solutions to deliver the personalized, responsive service that today’s clients expect.

Estateably is an all-in-one platform for trust and estates professionals that takes care of the manual tasks associated with estate administration. With powerful accounting tools, one-click reporting, and document automation software at your fingertips, you’ll be well-placed to connect with the next generation. Schedule a demo or contact us to find out more.

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