That’s why law firms are hard to scale.
Here’s some good news though: you can grow your law firm efficiently by productising your legal services.
What is a productised legal service?
Productised legal services bridge the gap between a product and legal services. They are a new type of legal services where intellectual property is leveraged, processes are standardised and most of the legal work is automated by software.
I call productised legal services “online legal solutions”. Why? Because (A) the word “productise” is lame, overused and I just can’t get excited about it, and (B) “online legal solutions” more accurately describes it because you are creating solutions to your clients’ legal problems and selling them online.
Why are online legal solutions more scalable?
Think about it legal peeps: selling legal services involves meeting with clients, learning about their situation, collecting information from them, creating a strategy and providing advice, drafting legal documents and other paperwork, and getting results for them. You also need to spend time before you take on a new client to evaluate their situation to see if you can add value and determine how long the legal service they require will take – this takes up even more of your valuable time.
By comparison, online legal solutions are scalable because:
- You can sell the same legal solution to 5 clients or 500 clients.
- The price and what is included is stated upfront – you don’t need to spend as much time explaining things and dealing with tire kickers.
- You can promote an online legal solution using all types of digital marketing – webinars, content marketing, email marketing and SEO. You don’t need to rely on referrals and networking.
- You can sell to anyone in your jurisdiction or even the whole world – you’re not limited to people living in your town or city.
How to productise your legal services
There are four basic online legal solution models you can use:
- One-off purchases
- Monthly subscriptions
- Bespoke document libraries
- Foot-in-the-door (FITD) offer
1. One-off purchases
What is it?
Instead of manually carrying out one-off legal services for your clients, like helping a client do a Will or purchase a house, you can standardise these legal services and documents so clients can purchase them from your firm’s website. A lot of the manual work can be automated.
Law firms that want to streamline the sales and marketing of their legal services, and have clients who need legal services once a year or every couple of years – usually private clients, startups and SMEs.
How to productise:
Go back and look at the different types of one-off legal work you’ve done for clients and what was involved – ask yourself:
- What was the scope?
- How long did it take you and your team to do the work?
- How much did you charge?
- Was it profitable?
- How could you standardise it?
Don’t worry if there is lots of variety around scope and price – this is actually an exciting opportunity to offer different tiers and service levels.
Once you can see which of your services can become standardised online legal solutions, you can look at which tasks can be automated. Many of the tasks within legal services can be automated, like scheduling appointments, interviewing clients, collecting information, drafting documents, signing documents, and invoicing and taking payment can all be automated.
Examples of firms using the one-off purchase model
What they do: Beach Law realised customised, comprehensive solutions are too inefficient – they wanted to find a way to serve lower value clients without trading hours for dollars. Beach Law now sells one-off online legal solutions from their firm’s website.
How it’s priced: Beach Law’s online legal solutions are available for personal family trust and business matters. They range in price from just $49 to $299 making them an affordable, easy and convenient solution.
What they do: CODR is Michael Heron QC’s online dispute resolution platform. CODR uses automated agreements wherever they can to speed things up, simplify the justice process and make it cheaper to resolve disputes. For a fixed fee parties can get an independent, fair and expert resolution to their problem – all online.
How it’s priced: In the example of a separation agreement, a client at CODR can choose from a basic ($345), standard ($1,995) or premium($4,995) package. The fixed fee prices increase depending on if you want or need legal advice, online certification, or time with an expert.
What is it?
You will have clients who you do legal work for regularly and then send them an invoice based on time or an agreed fixed fee.
The subscription-based model is where you put these clients on a monthly subscription (that’s recurring revenue!) where there they get access to a range of legal bots that create customised legal documents, other legal help resources like guides and videos, and a certain amount of legal advice from a lawyer each month.
Subscriptions are like a modern, productised version of retainers – they allow you to be more transparent about your retainers and fit them into standardised tiers. Giving clients these options provides ongoing value without you having to manually carry out all the work. Oh, and did I mention the recurring revenue?! Boom.
Law firms with clients who need legal services regularly, like startups that need regular access to a range of legal documents such as NDAs, or corporates that need resolutions prepared regularly.
How to productise:
Create a list of the clients you regularly do work for. Look for ways they can be grouped together – if you specialise in a particular area of law this will be easier than if you are more of a generalist.
Then within those groups of clients, look at the lower value engagements and create a subscription plan for that type of client that offers them the minimum amount of help resources and legal work, and work up to your higher value clients and create a plan that gives them the value they need.
For example, you may specialise in working with retirement villages so you could create a bronze, silver and gold subscription plans depending on the size and needs of each retirement village client. You could also have an enterprise subscription plan for your very best clients to give them a more tailored service.
Once you’ve created an outline of your subscription plans, you can work out how you will deliver value under each plan in the most efficient way. So instead of drafting documents like NDAs for clients each time they need one, you can give them access to an NDA legal bot – that way they can serve themselves each time they need an NDA prepared.
Examples of firms using the subscription-based model
Global Legal Solutions
What they do: Global Legal Solutions removes time and cost as barriers to any business globally seeking sustainable access to business enabling support. GLS Total Legal Support solutions are fixed fee monthly subscriptions for SMEs that understand the value of an in-house legal team but don’t have the budget traditionally required for one.
How they’re priced: Bronze ($99), silver ($299), gold ($799) and platinum ($1499) solutions are available (pricing is per month). Selection is based on where in the start up cycle the SME is – is it new, quickly growing, mid-cycle, or late-cycle?
What they do: Kit Legal sells legal first aid kits to help heavily regulated businesses in the financial services industry.
How they’re priced: There are two monthly subscriptions offered. The first legal first aid kit is called Rescue and manages their clients compliance obligations. This is offered via a customised online portal and backed by expert legal advice. The second kit is for businesses with not only regulatory but also operational legal requirements. It’s called Lifeline. Both packages are priced up front with no sneaky add-ons.
3. Bespoke document libraries
What is it?
This is an exciting new type of online legal solution – it’s where lawyers use automation technology to build and maintain document libraries for their corporate clients.
Law firms that have corporate clients with inhouse teams that regularly get you to draft legal documents, as well as inhouse teams that have their own legal document templates and forms that they use regularly.
How to productise:
Create a list of corporate clients you regularly prepare legal documents for, as well as corporate clients that have their own legal document templates and forms.
Then you need to come up with some pricing and a sales pitch. It is worth doing a pilot of this service with 1 or 2 corporate clients that you have a really good relationship with – approach them first so you can test it (as well as your pricing and your sales pitch!) out with them and improve it as you go.
Oh, and don’t forget to learn to build bots so that you can deliver what you promise!
Examples of bespoke document libraries
Anderson Lloyd and Global Legal Solutions
What they do: Well-known firms Global Legal Solutions and Anderson Lloyd are building bespoke document libraries for their multinational corporate clients. Their teams have learnt to build legal bots so they can offer legal bot building as a new type of legal service to clients. With their bot building skills they build automated document libraries using their clients’ document templates and precedents. Once these document libraries are built, these law firms maintain them on an ongoing basis.
How they’re priced: Bespoke document libraries can be charged for using subscription based pricing. Your firm charges a monthly or annual subscription to the client for access to their bespoke document library – your can create different subscription tiers based on how many bots the client wants built and maintained, and how often they want to use them.
4. Foot-in-the-door (FITD)
What is it?
FITD is a way to generate high quality client leads – you offer something of value to your ideal target client for free or at a low cost on your firm’s website.
Law firms that want more clients, or to generate more legal work from existing clients.
How to productise:
Think of how you can create an irresistible mini version of your service and package it into a product. It could be a free customised legal document, how-to guide, checklist, cheatsheet, video course, webinar, audit, ebook, template….or something else.
In exchange for you providing this excellent value, you get email addresses, phone numbers and other info from potential clients. These contact details give you the opportunity to build rapport and trust with these potential clients – this can be done by email nurture sequences and follow up phone calls.
An example of FITD model
Global Legal Solutions
What they offer: Global Legal Solutions has launched a free, automated, world class contracting solution.This is a NDA offered in various languages. And also happens to be a wonderful lead generation tool. Upon registration, requiring name and email, the user is able to access the fully automated NDA.
Once engaged with the FITD offer, GLS has an opportunity to continue to invest in the relationship in order to nurture trust and build rapport. This increases the likelihood of the client buying from them again.
How it’s priced: Free!
Scale your law firm and build better client relationships.
There’s a largely untapped market opportunity currently being served by non-law firms and other online alternatives. Lawyers can serve this emerging market, remain viable, and scale their businesses by offering online legal solutions (aka productised legal services). Empower your clients through the smart use of legal tech, diversify revenue beyond billables, and create a law firm of the future. Leverage your valuable intellectual property to create online legal solutions. It’s like having your own secret sauce.
If you’re keen to learn more about scaling your law firm with online legal solutions, head over to our new Savvy Lawyers Facebook group. Join me and a community of entrepreneurial lawyers talking about how you can use online legal solutions to make money while you sleep.