Last Friday, we put on a Total Expert Radio show, featuring James Durant and Joe DeWoskin, former and incoming Chairmen for the American Bar Association General Practice, Solo & Small Firm Division.
This month, I took a break from hosting and put Chelsey Lambert on the mic. Some of you may know Chelsey as the former executive director for the Total Practice Management Association and current Virtual Law Office Enabler at Total Attorneys.
During this show, Chelsey and our guests tackled a broad topic: Changing Consumer Trends and the Future of Legal Services.
While I didn’t host this show, I got the chance to listen in, and here are some of the highlights I got from this show:
- Businesses and other consumers are tightening their belts and looking at the economic climate when developing their budgets.They are looking for cheaper alternatives to legal services, but they are still looking for high quality services.
- Online services are popping up everywhere to offer consumers cheaper access to legal assistance.However, many consumers have trouble differentiating between legal information and legal advice. Information and document websites are similar to “handing someone tools and equipment, and then telling them to build a house.” Pro se litigants overburden courts because the Internet has made legal information readily available.When consumers use legal information in place of legal advice, they often end up paying more in the long run to fix mistakes that they make when acting without any guidance from an attorney.
- One way to bridge the gap between risky self-help and full-scale legal representation is by offering unbundled services.This allows attorneys to offer legal advice at cheaper rates or through alternative billing plans. Some attorneys offer flat fee rates for unbundled services, but unbundled services and flat fee rates can become tricky when dealing with complex cases or in-depth negotiations.
- In addition to hourly rates or flat fees, some attorneys consider bartering or service-for-service trades with their clients. When attorneys decide to accept alternative forms of payment, they should check with their local ethics rules for guidelines and pay attention to tax considerations.
- Social media use among attorneys is on the rise, not only for legal marketing, but also for fact-finding about clients, opposing counsel, opposing parties and other relevant case information. In addition, many solo attorneys turn to listservs, such as SoloSez, to share resources and build relationships with other attorneys nationwide.
These are just a few highlights from the show, which had a record number of listener questions answered on air, so visit the show page to listen to the full recording and learn more from our guests.
Join us later this month for a free Power Chat session on how to set up and run a virtual law firm, with Stephanie Kimbro, founder of Virtual Law Office Technology and a practicing virtual attorney.