Future of Law Friday: Marketing With Menus

Buying legal services can be confusing. Sometimes – in cases where work is unpredictable, or facts are unknown, opaque information may be acceptable. But for work that is commodity in nature or more predictable, there’s no reason not to make prices available to consumers – if not on your website, then at least in materials that you distribute in your office.

While developing the appropriate price structure may be difficult, once you’ve decided what kinds of services you want to offer and what to charge, there are several tools that allow you to present the information in an attractive, professional format. First up is CompareNinja, an online tool for creating web-based tables in CSS or HTML. Create Ninja is easy to use and offers a variety of skins to match your table to your website theme. Create Ninja is free for up to three tables of up to 10 rows/5 columns; unlimited tables and size range in price from $3/month to $60/year. Below is a sample that I created using the free version (note – services and prices are completely hypothetical):

Created with Compare Ninja

For a table that will look good printed as well as online, I took a somewhat counter-intuitive approach and searched for tools for generating restaurant menus and stumbled upon MustHaveMenus.com. The service costs $15.00/month on a strictly pay-as-you-go basis and for that price, users have access to 3000 different designs from which they can create an unlimited number of menus. I threw together the sample menu below — but there are many, many other customizable options. My sample menu is also fairly bare-bones with regard to description of the services provided; there’s ample room to add more detail.

There are a couple of ethics caveats to keep in mind with menu-based pricing. Most significantly, ethics rules prohibit bait-and-switch meaning that you’re bound by the prices you post at your website. So if you choose to publish a menu of prices online, be sure to keep prices up to date and include necessary disclaimers to allow for exceptions. Second, prices remain subject to the “reasonable fees” standards established by the bar – which can raise issues when it comes to subscription services. Specifically, several bar associations have found that a subscription service that includes so many caveats that it ultimately doesn’t deliver any real value violates the prohibition on reasonable fees – since clients are charged for a service when effectively, none is provided.

As consumers spend more time on tablets and smartphones, menu-based pricing and other visual depictions of information will become even more important. Those lawyers who can get information about their services and prices in front of consumers with maximum clarity and minimum verbiage will have a significant advantage as we careen into the mobile era.
Menu of Legal Services