When I’m asked how solo and small firm lawyers can compete with Legal Zoom, my view is that free is the best revenge. Now that legal forms are digitized, it’s only a matter of time before they’re available free everywhere. If forms are free, companies like Legal Zoom have nothing left to sell — whereas we lawyers can provide advice and guidance to clients.
So it’s no surprise to me then, that Legal Zoom is suing Rocket Lawyer over free, or more accurately, deceptive use of the term free to describe services like incorporation which still cost money (because of filing fees). RocketLawyer is fighting back, asserting that LegalZoom copied Rocket’s attorney subscription plans (as if these hadn’t been around since the 1970s with pre-paid legal).
Unfortunately, free isn’t only a drug; it’s a hallucinogenic that deludes otherwise rational academics into believing that these sites will solve the problem of access to law. Like me, Scott Greenfield is skeptical.
In the meantime, while Legal Zoom and Rocket Lawyer duke it out, here’s an interesting stat from the WSJ Report: big law legal services market for 2011 amounted to $269 billion, whereas the market for consumer legal services is estimated as around 93 billion. Which suggests to me that if you want to make money as a lawyer, bespoke is still the best way to go.