NLBM, a legal coaching company, has filed a copyright infringement complaint against 2-Hour Lifestyle Lawyer, accusing them of copying course content and reselling it. The complaint highlights the lack of uniqueness in coaching content, as many programs offer similar advice on topics like estate planning and pricing. The lawsuit raises questions about how much legal coaching content can actually be copyrighted, and whether going after lower-cost coaching programs is fair in an industry where lawyers often struggle financially. (Summary by ChatGPT)
- An explanation of what sets your law firm apart;
- A list of topics to discuss with clients during an estate planning meeting;
- A pricing menu for family wealth plans;
- Using a whiteboard to explain estate planning concepts to clients.
This list sounds like a fairly generic recitation of what an estate planning lawyer might learn in a how-to guide or from an experienced mentor. So, it might surprise you to learn that the list is a large part of the content over which a lawyer coaching company, NLBM has asserted copyright violations by a competitor, 2-Hour Lifestyle Lawyer in this recently filed complaint. [Disclosure: 2-Hour Lifesyle Lawyer sponsored the MyShingle AI-ccelerator Program).
The Complaint sheds light on the often opaque legal coaching industry. It describes that the owner of 2-Hour Lifestyle Lawyer had been a student in one of the NLBM programs between 2016 and 2018, paying over $17,000 for access to various trainings and materials. Now, NLBM accuses 2-Hour Lifestyle Lawyer of copying course content – like the pricing menu and whiteboard technique – and reselling it as its own.
There are a couple of problems with NLBM’s theories. For starters, 2-Hour Lifestyle Lawyer last accessed course content back in 2018, before the pandemic normalized webinars as a viable approach for marketing an estate planning firm along with in-person consults and seminars. So it’s doubtful that NLBM’s program included content on webinar hosting back then, even though that’s one of the key elements of the 2-Hour Lifestyle Lawyer Training.
Second and more importantly, there’s nothing proprietary or inherently creative about pricing menus or whiteboards or client roadmaps. This kind of information is in the nature of a functional direction which doesn’t qualify for copyright protection.
Which brings me to the next point: how much legal coaching content can actually be copyrighted? To be sure, most coaching companies have a unique brand and style, and focus on different aspects of law practice like building systems, marketing or work life balance and mental health. But the content they provide – whether on managing clients or networking with other professionals or building consistent work habits — is all largely the same.
Which isn’t to suggest that coaching problems are worthless. All ideas are meaningless without implementation – so to the extent that programs can help lawyers execute, they can offer value.
The question is, how much value? I suspect that NLBM’s lawsuit stems from a loss of business to a reputable program that, from what I understand, is priced at considerably less than the $17,000 that 2-Hour Lifestyle’s founder paid NLBM. In an industry where many solo and small firm lawyers are struggling to get by, we should be concerned about NLBM’s efforts to shut down a lower-priced provider to monopolize the market.