Editor’s Note: I’m very excited to host this post by Eva Hibnick and Allen Rodriguez, co-founders of a law innovation agency, One 400, focusing on helping law firms build products, create inbound marketing channels and acquire clients. I realize that many lawyers don’t want to see legal work commoditized, but if that’s inevitable, I’d rather have lawyers than non-lawyers creating the charge. Also, “product development” which is the subject of this post needn’t be taken literally – the steps that Eva and Allen describe can be applied to any new law firm endeavor from exploring a new practice area to developing a better intake system to serve clients.
Companies spend a lot of time and money on developing new product lines and perfecting existing products. In business, product development is a fairly common term but not so common in relation to lawyers and legal services. For lawyers, the common practice is trading time for money. Clients are billed for the number of hours you spend on a given motion, brief or contract. However, by shifting your mindset and breaking from tradition you’ll find that offering your services much in the same way tangible products are offered will help you increase your client retention rate, decrease your sales cycle and increase your client satisfaction. The additional benefits offered by this method is a better more scalable process and increased revenue.
Legalzoom was one of the first recognized companies to productize legal services though many other non-attorney owned providers have been offering flat fee commoditized services since the 80’s. Using Legalzoom, consumers can purchase many do-it-yourself legal products without talking to an attorney.
We believe that lawyers can use the same methodology as Legalzoom and over their legal services as products. Lawyers have one huge advantage over Legalzoom, which is the human interaction that many clients want when dealing with legal issues that seem uncharted and mystified.
Below are some tips on how you can offer legal products at your law firm.
1) Identify legal services that you are fairly standard across all clients
Think about the services you currently offer. What are some of the services that you can templatize or replicate with very little customization?
2) Fix prices
Estimate the number of hours it usually takes you to complete the service you have chosen to productize. Look at the bills from recent clients to see how much you are charging clients in total for a given service. Keep in mind that some pricing may be higher and some lower. Choose an average price and start there. Offering legal services with fixed pricing offers consumers of legal services predictability and purchase confidence.
Your pricing may change over time and that’s okay. The data you receive from your retention rates will allow you to scale this particular offering, increase your efficiency and expertise. This also allows you to acquire more client and increase your top line revenue.
3) Determine what steps are needed to accomplish the service and create an internal fulfilment process
For most transactional services you likely already have a template document and a questionnaire for new clients. If you don’t, you’ll want to create these so that you can increase your efficiency and even automate as much of the process as possible. That’s not to say that you can customize the template to meet a particular client’s needs, but starting from a baseline document that you’ve worked on over time will clearly get you to the finished product more quickly.
4) Create a separate product page on your website
For each product you offer, you should have a separate page on your website dedicated to describing it. We’ll call this a product page. By listing the price on the product page, you’ll be allowing the consumer to determine whether or not they are even in your fee range. This will prevent you from wasting your time talking to unqualified leads who cannot afford your service and will also provide you with a competitive advantage since many firms have been slow to adopt this. The goal of the product page is to convert a website visitor into a retained client by providing them with all the information they need to make a purchase decision. By being transparent about the price and what is included, clients are able to draw a conclusion more quickly on whether or not they want to move forward.
5) Set up a merchant account
Just like any other product, you should be able to purchase it online. By setting up a merchant account on your website, you allow people to purchase the product with ease. This was an early advantage of Legalzoom, as it eliminated the need for the consumer to drive across town, pay for parking, take time off work and any other inconveniences normally associated with hiring an attorney.
Following these tips will help you set a foundation for establishing commoditized services at your law practice, which can supplement your more complex offerings. Productizing some of your services will help you stabilize cash flow issues so that you can start developing a recurring stream of revenue. Most importantly, you’ll be providing services in a manner that consumers are demanding and giving your firm a competitive advantage in the process.
One400 specializes in helping lawyers create products out of service offerings. If you would like to talk to us, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Eva Hibnick is the co-founder and Chief of Growth at One400, a law innovation agency focusing on helping law firms build products, create inbound marketing channels and acquire clients. She was previously the Marketing Manager at General Assembly and before entering the startup world, she was an attorney at Cravath, Swaine & Moore. She is a graduate of Harvard Law School and licensed to practice in New York.
Eva is a frequent speaker on legal marketing and sales. She is also active in the legal tech community, serving as the co-organizer to the LA Legal Hackers Meetup, the LA Legal Community Meetup and was a mentor for the SF and LA Legal Tech Startup Weekends. She has guest blogged for Solo Practice University, The Law Insider, Shake Law and other legal industry blogs.
Allen Rodriguez is the co-founder and Chief of Product at One400, a law innovation agency focusing on helping law firms build products, create inbound marketing channels and acquire clients. Prior to One400, he was the Director of Attorney Services at LegalZoom and ran the referral service at the LA County Bar, generating over $2 million in revenue during his term. He has been doing marketing for lawyers and legal tech startups for the past 15 years.
He is a frequent speaker on productization of legal services. He is also active in the legal tech community, serving as the co-organizer to the LA Legal Hackers Meetup, the LA Legal Community Meetup and was a mentor for the SF and LA Legal Tech Startup Weekends.