The hallmark of Avvo’s Lawyernomics Conference this year was the substantial amount of law practice data provided by the speakers.
The second day of the conference kicked off with an excellent talk by Avvo founder Mark Britton on Adapting to the New Legal Consumer. The relative ease of access to information, forms, and case law by consumers has changed the way in which people solve their legal problems – often foregoing the hiring of an attorney and instead opting to do-it-themselves.
Some interesting data provided by Mr. Britton:
- 59% of people are going online to resolve their legal issues
- 56% of people want to speak with a lawyer but in the end what to deal with the legal issue themselves
Often I think the assumption is that DIY legal crowd takes on their own case because they lack the funds to hire a lawyer. However what this Avvo study demonstrates is that while money is likely an issue for some consumers there remains a large body of consumers who simply want to retain control of their case.
The study also demonstrates though that consumers, while seemingly very comfortable in trying to resolve their legal issue on their own still want access to attorney as a guide if the going gets rough.
Attract Clients Through On-Demand Services
And when they say they want access – they want it now. Mr. Britton argued that lawyers must be more responsive and adaptable to consumers who want immediate answers. The days of letting emails and phone calls go unanswered are over – at least for those attorneys who wish to remain competitive.
To this end he advised lawyers to build their own “on-demand” systems that will allow them to conform to the client’s expectation of a near-immediate response. Here are a few of Mr. Britton’s suggestions:
- Creation of a structured intake and response system
- Making sure you have someone who can respond immediately to client questions/concerns – possibly an “on-demand manager”
- Use CRM Software (Salesforce, Constant contact, Ignite, Unsightly, Zoho)
- Offer contact options, i.e. phone, text, firm representative, chat, intake forms, online calendaring, etc.
Mr. Britton’s talk was followed up with additional data from Nischal Pathantia, Avvo’s group product manager. He provided some interesting statistics:
- 80% of people who have a legal issue do not hire an attorney
- 59% are choosing to do it themselves
- 77% of consumers say that lawyers are too expensive
- 42% end up needing a lawyer’s assistance
Much of the morning’s talks lead to a discussion by the Avvo employees on the new legal services offered by Avvo, including their new forms that are being offered for free to consumers.
I have spotlighted the Avvo Legal Services before and have taken the position that even though many lawyers are skeptical, I believe Avvo Legal Services are something that could benefit the consumer and the attorney a like. While Avvo is brining in the client through its website the actual legal work is being performed by independent attorneys who have opted in to Avvo’s system to be a legal service provided.
However, one down side to this new offering is that the legal services are set at fixed flat rates. While I know consumers appreciate a fixed fee – I offer them in my law practice as well – what Avvo has done is effectively set the default rate for basic legal services nationwide.
Avvo offers a uncontested divorce for the flat fee of $995. Local practitioners who provide representation to non-Avvo clients in uncontested divorces will now be hard pressed to charge more than $995 – even when the amount of work would warrant a higher legal fee. Avvo’s setting of fees on a nation-wide basis for its legal services may inadvertently cause a race to the bottom when it comes to practitioners trying to keep their prices competitive to the services offered through Avvo’s contract attorneys.
Resources Mentioned in this Episode
- Avvo Legal Forms
- Richard James – Automated Business Results
- John Grant – The Agile Attorney Network
- Christopher Andersen – How to Manage a Small Law Firm
- Get Five Star – Online Review System