An Interview with Law Firm App Leader, Houthoff Buruma

Houthoff Burura has produced three very different mobile apps (HB Global, HB The App, and HB Conf App). To find out more about this firm’s mobile strategy, Law Firm Mobile connected with Jaap Bosman, the firm’s Director of Marketing & Business Development, to discuss the firm’s thinking behind developing apps.

Law Firm Mobile: For those of our audience not familiar with your firm, could you tell us a little about it?

Bosman: Houthoff Buruma is a long-established Netherlands based law firm with well over 250 lawyers worldwide. Houthoff Buruma has a strong focus in areas of corporate / M&A, dispute resolution, banking & finance and insolvency. Houthoff Buruma is the Lex Mundi firm for the Netherlands.

Law Firm Mobile: Why has your firm decided to produce smartphone applications?

Bosman: Innovation is one of the core values of Houthoff Buruma. Furthermore, we are always looking for new and efficient ways for our clients to stay in contact with us and to keep up with the latest developments. Our apps provide a quick and easy way to access information about all of our lawyers, practices and relevant developments.

Law Firm Mobile: What are your thoughts regarding mobile compatible websites v. mobile apps?

Bosman: In 2011, traffic to law firm websites from mobile devices increased by 152%. Our audience increasingly relies on mobile devices to get information, and to communicate with our firm. A few months ago,we released our new website houthoff.com, which improved the accessibility of our website to our mobile clients. We believe that our customers use both mobile compatible websites and mobile apps, and think that an integrated approach is the optimal solution.

Law Firm Mobile: All of your apps are for the iOS (and one for the BlackBerry). Do you have plans to support other platforms?

Bosman: Houthoff Buruma so far has developed apps for iPhone, iPad and BlackBerry. After releasing our first app for BlackBerry, we received feedback from our clients asking for an iPhone version of the app. Because of the growing share of iPhones and iPads in the business market, we decided to build apps for iPhone and iPad as well. Until now, we did not make any apps for Android, because in the high-end market where Houthoff Buruma is operating, most of our clients either use BlackBerry or iPhone. We think it is important to keep up with the latest developments, so if there will be any demand from our client for Android Apps, we will take this into account.

Law Firm Mobile:  Who do you use to develop your apps?

Bosman: The conceptual idea of all of our Apps is set up by Houthoff Buruma. For developing our apps, we work together with Oberon Interactive, a company specialising in interactive web and mobile solutions. For our recruitment app ‘HB The App’, we worked together closely with Ranj Serious Games. They also helped us to develop our serious game for recruitment in 2010, ‘The Game’, which went on to win numerous awards.

Law Firm Mobile: Could you share any client reaction to your apps?

Bosman: We received many positive reactions on our apps from our clients, other firms in our Lex Mundi network and we also received a lot of media coverage. Our app was even voted no. 3 in the top-5 Business apps in the Netherlands by leading Dutch financial newspaper, Het Financieele Dagblad. Our ‘HB Global’ app was downloaded 1,000 times within weeks of release, and still now each week there are 10 new downloads.

A few reactions we received from clients:

  • “I’ve downloaded your app and I must say that it looks really great. Compliments!”
  • “Very innovative 3D technique. I’m sure it will be used for more than Houthoff Buruma purposes only”.
  • “Why don’t we have this?” (The app was circulated through partners of a Lex Mundi law firm.)

Law Firm Mobile: What are your plans for further mobile efforts in the near future? 

Bosman: We just released our ‘HB Conf’ app for iPhone and iPad, the official app for the 2012 Spring Meeting of the Section of International Law of the American Bar Association. Besides providing conference information, this app offers unique networking opportunities by using Linkedin to connect with other participants and helps to create a personalized program. We are currently working on using this app for other international conferences coming up.

Also, we are working on extending our ‘HB The App’, our app specifically made for recruitment purposes. New features will be added, in cooperation with various important key components in the business community, such as business schools, top-tier US and UK law firms, investment banks, etc. We are also working on making our website houthoff.com even more accessible to our mobile clients on a continuous basis.

Law Firm Mobile: Thanks for your time, Jaap!