Legal trends

It’s Not Your Father’s Legal Profession: How to Adapt

LeanLaw Lawyer with 7 armsdoing multiple things at once

The Legal Profession is changing in dramatic ways, LeanLaw Services helps you navigate the shift.

One example of the ever-changing waters of the practice of law is that people don’t come to lawyers with routine questions the way they used to. Typically someone will start to address her legal questions with a Google search. There’s often some pretty good information online. When – and if – they contact an attorney, clients today have more information than have had historically. They may even have first drafts of documents from resources like Rocket Lawyer and Legal Zoom, or research relevant to their dispute. They might just be looking for fine tuning or confirmation.

Demand is Down

Because there is so much free or value-priced legal information and documents online, the value potential clients expect to get from a lawyer is much higher than what we have experienced in the past. It’s getting less and less likely that lawyers will be getting paid for filling out forms or for routine matters in litigation. Clients are just not coming to lawyers for that kind of information. This trend is one cause of a drop in demand for traditional legal services since 2008. The market hasn’t recovered since the recession and most likely won’t ever return to those levels. This narrows the traditional market.

Law Practice Management Solutions

There are law firms out there that have figured out how to operate productively at a very low cost. And it’s an opportunity for them to extend their practice, economically and geographically.

Technology Can Extend Your Reach

I know a solo lawyer who is in the process of creating a statewide conservatorship and guardianship practice by leveraging technology such as document automation software and relationship marketing over the internet. That’s a great idea. You could also leverage your services online with routine services like collections, bankruptcy and family law.

Outsourcing at a Fraction of the Cost

You could use a more radical type of leveraging, where a trial attorney in a small town might use outsourced paralegal or attorney resources in other parts of the country or even other parts of the world to help staff a large litigation. Or you could slash due diligence costs in a real estate transaction by outsourcing document review to India. A fellow in the American College of Real Estate Lawyers was heard to describe this tactic as “an acceptable experience at 10 percent of the cost.”

There are companies where you can add a lawyer or two to your case, even in specialty practice areas, so that you don’t have to maintain all of your attorney resources on site. You can also get outsourced attorneys for e-discovery, providing document review, initial privilege review and more from U.S. attorneys for $35/hour. And we have only seen the tip of the iceberg of these kinds of services.

Why Pay Rent?

You can have a virtual office instead of a brick and mortar office. For a few hundred dollars a month you can have your phone answered, and rent a conference room or office only when you need them. If most of your hours are not spent with clients, this might be a great solution.

Getting Started

If all of this sounds great in theory but you still don’t know where to begin, call or send me an email Maybe these steps are too advanced for where you are now. Maybe you need to think about the basics for getting lean.

I started LeanLaw with the mission that every lawyer should have a lean practice. We stand ready to help your solo practice or small firm get lean and survive the disruption to the business of practicing law in the ever-changing waters of our legal profession.

Join the LeanLaw Movement!

Gary Allen, Founder and Practicing Attorney