In addition to doing all the hard work it takes to be a lawyer, people have outrageous expectations of what a lawyer does today. They have to be great communicators. Lawyers need to be experts in the law — very probably in more than one type — with diverse peer groups to pass off specialty requests. They need to be available at the drop of a hat and instantly provide counsel when it’s most needed.
Your clients want your firm to be a fast food restaurant — easy access, price and billing.
According to the BusinessofLawBlog, clients want to be in the driver’s seat. They want upfront pricing with information about what they get for that consulting. It’s almost as if they expect a menu of options with a price tag attached to each one. They expect it to be clear and understandable without even talking to you, too.
With new websites like Legalzoom and self-service legal advice around everything from starting a business to creating a will, you may need to think creatively about how you compete. Estimated pricing based on your billable hours usually helps. But some law firms and lawyers are considering value-based pricing instead of hourly. This has factored in how much time you think it’ll take to complete work and what your billable hours is ahead of time. There are definitely pros and cons and you and your law firm should weigh which one is right for you and your organization.
Many big law firms have IT employees devoted to keeping up with servers and systems as well as manage the risk around them. Smaller companies rely on outsourcing and may not be as equipped to handle technology.
And yet in this digital age, not only do you have to understand much of how to store documents, but also how to pick audio conferencing services. That’s a wide variance! If you bill by the hour, selecting an audio conferencing vendor is easy as there aren’t that many options. Flat-fee, value-based pricing structures enable more variety.
Probably like how you recommend other law firms or companies for related guidance, think about the companies you want to work with who can provide expertise and counsel when you need them.
Although there was never the Perry Mason word-of-mouth marketing in law, competition wasn’t as cut-throat back then as it is today. Differentiating your law firm, other than by specialty, is hard. (And sometimes even by specialty can be a challenge.) How do you explain to your clients that you are better at customer service than a competitor, which is why you charge more? Or how do you provide your firm’s combined expertise so they understand the years of law behind your partners? What if you or your firm is new, how do you provide information about what kind of counsel you provide people.
Enter the traditional marketer who’s looking at your value proposition and ways you stand out, figuring out your core audience, and determining the best ways to sell to them. Again, if you’re not from a megalaw company, you may be wearing a marketing hat, too.
Webinars and webcasts are easy ways to provide advice to potential clients, especially related to your expertise. For example, if you’re firm specializes in intellectual property, providing a high-level overview about the dos and don’ts could lead to the type of clients you want.
Hang in there
Being a lawyer is hard and getting harder daily. But with expertise and counsel available to you, you’ll overcome some of the bigger challenges you face even if you’re not biglaw. And if you are, you can still embrace agility to compete with newer firms.