Last week, MyShingle held our second DC-based meet up featuring Priori Legal founders Basha Frost Rubin and Mirra Levitt. Though 48 people registered for the event unfortunately, the weather didn’t cooperate and between federal government shut-down, early law firm closings and unplowed roads, attendance was lighter than expected. Nevertheless, we still went ahead with the meet-up, with all attendees having ample time to speak personally with Basha and Mirra about how their site works and future plans.
The Meet Up also promised advice and lessons learned for lawyers who serve or seek to attract small firm clients. Here are a few points to keep in mind.
1. Clients Can’t Stand the Sound of Silence
So what do small business clients really dislike about lawyers? Surprisingly, high fees aren’t at the top of the list – though smaller clients do greatly prefer fixed rates or predictable fees. Rather, it’s “silence.” Clients dislike not hearing from their lawyers. If a lawyer can’t finish a matter on schedule, clients can work with that, so long as the lawyer explains the reasons for the delay and provides a new timeline for delivery. The solution? Either check in with clients periodically by email to let them know the status of the case, or develop a template that you or support staff can complete to share updates with the client. Be proactive and send status reports before the client asks.
2. Legal Zoom Is Growing Source of Business for Lawyers
One of the most common sources of business for lawyers using the Priori Platform are clients in need of review and upgrades to do-it-yourself documents and forms. In many cases, it isn’t so much that the forms resulted in litigation or the costly parade of horribles predicted by lawyers opposed to self-help solutions. Rather, the forms may have worked fine when the companies started out, but now that the companies have grown, they need grown-up documents. In other instances, companies could not find counsel and didn’t realize that what they really needed was advice, not a form. Seems to me that lawyers could create a cottage industry updating or reviewing business’ DIY forms.
3. Lowest Price Isn’t Always Chosen
Clients don’t necessarily choose the lowest price lawyer. Sometimes, they prefer a firm that has the direct experience they’re looking for, other times, it’s a personality-driven relationship. At the same time, many of the clients who find solo and small firm lawyers through Priori are accustomed to big firm rates, so even the most expensive small firms may be a bargain for some companies.
These are just three quick points that I remembered best – I plan to reschedule another meet up with the Priori founders to accommodate more attendees. For the next meet up, however (sometime in February), I’m thinking about an “all-hands” event, where we tackle an actual task like creating a law firm newsletter or getting a blog up and running. Let me know if you have any thoughts for a subject for an “all hands” meet up.