Transactional law is being disrupted. This will come as no surprise to anyone that has read anything about legal technology in the last 10 years. This is not an article about how consumers are using Do-It-Yourself (DIY) solutions. This is about how there will be a shift from the DIY legal solutions to a Do-It-For-Me (DIFM) hybrid solution for legal services.
The DIFM approach is nothing new in the retail market. Home Depot, once thought of only as a big box store designed as a dreamland for avid DIY homeowners made a huge shift to also offer DIFM solutions because they recognized that a large part of the US population wanted a DIFM solution.
Kevin Hofmann, president of Home Depot’s online business was quoted in a 2015 article: “At any given time Home Depot will be in 7,000 to 8,000 homes today helping you with your projects…when a customer wants a turnkey Do-It-For-Me solution, they are looking for quality workmanship, guaranteed results, backed up by a great brand and they want convenience.” This isn’t just happening in the home maintenance arena; Companies in food preparation, delivery, home-based healthcare, and auto maintenance are also experiencing a rise in demand for DIFM options.
Attorneys offer specialized knowledge and consumers are willing to pay for that knowledge. No one will argue an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure from a legal standpoint. What consumers don’t want to pay for (and what attorneys don’t want to spend time doing) is the administrative tasks after the consultation.
These administrative tasks include:
So why are so many people unwilling to pay for transactional legal services with an attorney compared to DIY providers? Many fear that they are overpaying because administrative tasks like paperwork and filings add into the total hours on their bill. How do you combat this? Offer a combined approach.
Software is available that allows attorneys to automate rote tasks and focus only on the activities that provide the most value to their clients. In 2019, we’ll move beyond Do-It-Yourself to Do-It-For-Me (DFM): clients need legal expertise, but they don’t need to pay attorneys’ rates for simple tasks.
The key innovations in law are going to harness the efficiency and transparency of DIY technology that are built for law firms and the expertise of lawyers. Companies like Legalinc allow attorneys and paralegals to expedite administrative tasks so they can increase the quality of service they deliver to their clients while taking on more new clients than previously possible.
To illustrate the potential time savings: Imagine protecting your revenue on business formation consultations, offering flat rate consultation and knowing that the name search, preparation of articles, registered agent, EIN obtainment, corporate kit, etc. will take 3-5 minutes of your time.
Ramsey Taylor of Taylor Law realized he could use technology to harness the DIFM trend. In 2016 he began partnering with Legalinc to become more efficient so he could focus on giving the practical advice his clients need to hear. With every business formation, Ramsey is saving a full work hour. That’s an hour back in his day, and an hour he can give back to his client, an hour he can spend with his family and an hour a client doesn’t have to pay for. It truly is a win-win.
For other firms, the first step in this shift will be realizing the difference between information and advice. Information is everywhere, and it’s usually free. Information about the law is available to everyone via the internet, and people have grown increasingly tired of paying lawyers for it. The information as a legal service industry is on track to top $176 million of revenue in 2017. Companies in this space are making waves because they give the power back to the consumer. Attorneys are repelling potential business because they fail to distinguish that their biggest value lies beyond providing information.
An attorney’s true value is the way in which they help you apply information. Unfortunately, the biggest winners in the legal technology arena target consumers directly. Technologies like the Oh Crap App and Shake give people legal information and tools to use it, but they all have disclaimers reiterating they can’t give advice, recommendations, or opinions regarding the law.
Law firms that combine sound legal advice with efficient legal technology to create a DIFM solution will bridge the gap between these non-attorney legal service providers and traditional attorney services. Law firms offering a lower cost DIFM solution along with the guidance of an attorney are the ones that will come out on top of this disrupted marketplace.