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Product Development for Lawyers

by Carolyn Elefant on November 17, 2014 · 9 comments

in Guest Post

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. [click to continue…]

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It’s all about the clients. And what’s great to hear is that many of today’s clients don’t just tolerate but increasingly, are coming to accept lawyers for whom work-life balance matters. At least that’s been the experience of Frances Wood and Jennifer Gold, the two women who founded Wood Gold, an Ontario-based, family friendly law firm featured in The Star.

Undoubtedly, the firm has succeeded because of the partners’ legal talents – they toiled for years at large firms before teaming up to launch their own. Moreover, these women aren’t slackers – they’ll come in on the weekend or work after hours to get the job done. But ultimately, the reason that the arrangement works is because the firm’s clients support it. Take this example:

Not long ago, [Gold] was finalizing a matrimonial settlement for the vice-president of a bank. He came in to go over the details but wanted a number of changes. “I can come in on the weekend, but I’ll have to bring my two-year-old,” Gold told him. He agreed and she completed the redraft with a toddler on her lap. “He never complained. In fact he has referred other clients to me.”

A family-friendly law firm isn’t for every client – just as a blustering attorney who  promises to get rid of the vermin that is your spouse  isn’t every client’s first choice either. However, as corporations grow more family friendly, and as technology enables more individuals to start businesses nights and weekends while working a day job, the need for law firms that know how to work flexibly and accommodate odd schedules.  [click to continue…]

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Do you send holiday cards each year with little business to show for your effort? That’s not surprising. After all, many firms are inundated with holiday cards and may do little more than glance at yours. So why not start a new end-of-year tradition: a law firm annual report. Here’s some tips on how to get started.

  1. The Content

As a first step, decide on the contents of the report. You can model an annual report on a traditional corporate annual report, summarizing key cases you’ve handled and successes you’ve enjoyed. Depending upon your practice and how you track cases, you could include charts showing the number of cases opened or resolved within the course of the year.

Of course, an annual report doesn’t have to focus on your firm. Instead, you might highlight key developments in your practice area. Since 2012, I’ve included an annual summary of FERC appellate cases in my law firm newsletter. It’s an eagerly awaited feature, plus it forces me to read the thirty or so decisions issued each year.   [click to continue…]

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Four years on the heels of its Ethics 20/20 Initiative, the ABA is once again trying to make itself relevant. This time around, the ABA has established a Commission on the Future of Legal Services , with a goal of inspiring innovation and leveraging technology to expand access to justice.  And guess who’s expected to bear the brunt of providing access to justice? None other than solo and small firm practitioners who already do more than nearly any other sector to make legal services available to ordinary folks.

You think I’m kidding? Would that it were so. But one of the issues on which the Commission is seeking comment is:

How can small law practices (e.g., solo practitioners, lawyers in rural communities, small firm lawyers, etc.) sustainably represent those who do not have access to legal services?

What’s more, we’re the only segment of the population to attract our own shout-out. There’s no mention of what big law attorneys or government lawyers or legal academics or legal tech start-ups can do to represent those without access to legal services. Only solo.   [click to continue…]

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Solo by Choice Now Available on Kindle

by Carolyn Elefant on November 5, 2014 · 0 comments

in Announcements

solobychoiceIn the five years since I first published Solo by Choice, potential buyers have increasingly been asking for an e-book version. I wasn’t able to release an e-book when I updated the book in 2011. But a few months ago – with little fanfare – the electronic version launched and is available here on Amazon for $25 – a considerable discount from the hard copy version.

The electronic version contains 2011 materials which are still current. Indeed, Solo by Choice remains the most current and comprehensive book on starting a law practice on the market today, offering advice on dealing with clients as well as lots of specifics on choosing practice management software, social media platforms and outsourcing work.  You can also still purchase Solo by Choice on Amazon, though for now, it’s available only as print on demand.

 

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Legal Advice on a Dime – Should Lawyers Play?

November 5, 2014 by Carolyn Elefant

With last week’s announcement of Legal Zoom’s recent partnership with Sam’s Club to offer deals on legal services as well as Avvo’s launch of Avvo Advisor, the blogosphere’s abuzz with discussion of “should lawyers participate or shouldn’t they?” ( See  Susan Cartier-Liebel, The Bridge Builders  at Above the Law, Bob Ambrogi’s coverage of Avvo Advisor […]

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Another Solo Practice Bites the Dust

October 27, 2014 by Carolyn Elefant

This week, it’s Above the Law  columnist Shannon Achimalbe’s turn to Monday morning quarterback a solo practice that ran out of steam- a topic covered previously by Lawyerist , MyShingle and Simple Justice. In spite of this handful of posts, failed law firms or failed start-ups don’t get much coverage (and when they do, it’s all smoke or […]

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Do Corporate Counsel Really Want Freebies – or Do they Want To Put Big law in Its Place?

October 23, 2014 by Carolyn Elefant

In a buyer’s market for legal services, great work alone often isn’t enough to attract or retain a client. At least that’s what two in-house counsel advised in recent interviews posted at JD Supra and summarized at Daily Report Online. According to these interviews, today’s in-house counsel expect outside lawyers to take the time to […]

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Is Denying a Solo Lawyer’s Motion for a Continuance Due to Maternity Leave Sexist – Or Worse?

October 20, 2014 by Carolyn Elefant

By now, you’ve probably read about Stacy Ehrisman, the Georgia attorney who filed a judicial complaint against immigration judge J. Daniel Pelletier after he denied her unopposed continuance request due to maternity leave and then berated her when she showed up with her four-week old infant in tow.  Lots of female commenters – Staci Zaretsky,  […]

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One More Reason to Flat Fee: Getting Paid

October 16, 2014 by Carolyn Elefant

A recent decision by a New York court, rejecting a law firm’s breach of contract claim to recover $2.3 million in legal fees from a client highlights both the importance of a detailed written representation agreement and yet another reason to consider adopting flat fees. According to the New York Law Journal, Kasowitz, Benson, Torres […]

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