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Law firms should sell products, not time

Legal business owners have to rethink their business models so that value propositions are not only more compatible with client needs, but also with the lifestyles of said business owners.

user iconJerome Doraisamy 07 January 2021 SME Law
Law firms should sell products, not time
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While she was still studying law, Birman & Ride senior associate Lucy Dickens went to work for the “very progressive” Perth-based firm, and quickly realised she wasn’t in a traditional legal practice.

She had initially thought, she mused, that the ways her employer operated were the norm, but subsequently had to question why legal professionals across the board weren’t working in ways that she deemed to be “obvious and natural”.

Speaking earlier this week on The Boutique Lawyer Show, Ms Dickens said that when she talks to fellow practitioners about the need to do law differently, she means going beyond simple adoption of practices that can be termed as NewLaw, but also considering “legal services as a business that sells legal products, as opposed to a legal practice being the sale of time”.


“Think about your legal business as a business. It’s much broader than [the debate about] selling time versus fixed and value pricing,” she said.

“I would say that a legal practice is based around the expertise of an individual. Traditionally, when you think about lawyers, it’s an individual selling their time, selling their expertise, whereas on the flip side, a business that sells legal products is based around systems and is based around products. So, consider the following: how can I sell an outcome and solve a problem as opposed to which person do I need to engage to provide this service?”

From the perspective of one’s lifestyle and holistic wellness, Ms Dickens noted, such changes are critical.

“I speak to lawyers who find themselves in a system that doesn’t suit the way they want to live their lives, and I don’t think it has to be that way. We can run a successful legal practice and legal business that also lets us have time for all the other things in life that are important to us, and really that’s the heart of it for me,” she said.

When asked if there is a triage of priorities when it comes to rejigging one’s business model to focus more on the sale of products versus one’s time, particularly in the wake of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Ms Dickens said that – among the various steps that can be taken – finding one’s vision and understanding one’s clients have to be the first ports of call.

“Finding your vision is the first thing that people need to do when theyre looking at changing their business model, because when talking about doing law differently, the question is: what does that look like to you? There’s no one-size-fits-all. Work out what kind of business you want, and how that fits in with your life,” she espoused.

“And once youve got that and you know what that looks like, then step two is understanding your clients and working out who youre working for, what their problems are and how can you solve those problems, what is it that they need, whats the outcome that theyre looking for, and how do they want to consume your service?

“Those two things are really the foundations, and then everything else kind of comes from there.”

To listen to the full conversation with Lucy Dickens, click below:

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