As in any industry, most business practice is now completed online. Virtual “hubs” of resources and information are beginning to shape the way interactions, entertainment and information are accessed. Think search engines like Google, services for ridesharing (Uber, Lyft) and streaming (Netflix, Spotify), insurance and banking comparison sites (i-Select and Choosi), online shopping (Asos, Amazon) … even dating! These are all online platforms with a fundamental mission: to achieve their desired service with ease.
So, how does the legal industry tap into this technology? We must first ask how prospective clients search for a lawyer. Usually, it is through word-of-mouth, a referral from friends and family, or a simple Google search.
But who knows what they are searching for? What do clients really want from a lawyer? Can a prospective client gain the amount of knowledge they need from a search engine that, ultimately, ranks its business by the amount of money spent on gaining a high search ranking, rather than relevance to the legal issue?
According to CEO of Legally Yours, Karen Finch, the biggest barrier clients face in actually following through with engaging a lawyer is the uncertainty and lack of transparency in fees.
“We are consistently told by clients that the number one reason they do not go ahead with a legal service is the lawyer’s inability to fix their fees with an output of service.”
This is where a legal marketplace comes into play. In essence, it is a centralized online platform, offering clients an opportunity to browse and select lawyers across multiple areas of law.
For clients, a fixed-fee legal marketplace gives all-inclusive access to a catalogue of lawyer profiles, their credentials, articles, interviews, videos and other resources about the lawyers they are interested in engaging. Clients have choice, ease of navigation and a plethora of information not normally distributed through traditional law firm marketing.
The fundamentals of fixed-fee also appeal to clients’ need to be in control of their legal spend. Through clients knowing upfront what is going to be delivered for what price, there will be increased satisfaction at the conclusion of a legal matter, leading to a generation of on-going referral and repeat business.
But how does this free-flowing marketplace model work for lawyers? The ability to “play” in a centralized legal marketplace gives lawyers the opportunity to experiment with fixing the costs of legal services without necessarily having to re-evaluate their entire billing structure. Fixed-fee billing does not have to be the sole way a lawyer conducts their business; rather, this opt-in fixed-fee marketplace model can allow lawyers to test what services they would like to offer as fixed-fee before changing their entire invoicing structure. A legal marketplace provides lawyers the opportunity to increase their firm’s brand awareness to a client pool they would normally not be able to attract traditionally.
Being fixed-fee, lawyers also have the opportunity to more accurately forecast monthly budgets, spending less time chasing payments and having awkward phone conversations with clients. Lawyers are, as a result, more productive; they can build a wider pool of clients of which they can work with at the same time, with less stress attributed to achieving hourly invoicing targets. With one stress gone, the focus will be on the client and the work, rather than accounting for every minute of every workday.
Being in a centralised marketplace setting also allows lawyers to connect with other fixed-fee lawyers across different legal specialisms via backend network technology. In this way, referrals can be streamlined, so that lawyers can refer their valued clients to other fixed-fee lawyers that are members of the same marketplace. A thriving marketplace of likeminded professionals and a cooperative working environment will foster positive client communication, transparent invoicing and payment, and a happier end result, satisfying both client and lawyer.
Legally Yours is an online fixed-fee legal marketplace that offers lawyers an opportunity to list their fixed-fee legal services across a multitude of areas of law in Australia. Together with their partners at the Asia Law Network, lawyers can instantly have access to an international client database throughout Singapore, Vietnam, Hong Kong and Thailand — all on the one easy platform.
Join the legal fixed-fee movement by becoming a Legally Yours marketplace member at www.legallyyours.com.au