The legal sector has a growing problem more likely to occur in large urban areas. What is the problem? A lack of access to legal services among certain segments of the population unable to hire expensive attorneys. It is a problem that’s not going to go away unless the industry makes a concerted effort to address it.
Legal services cost money; we all know that. But the cost of legal services continues to grow at a rate that is gradually pricing more people out of the market. That’s something they are trying to address in Philadelphia by offering free legal services to all city residents.
Free may not necessarily be the way to go given that is not sustainable in the long term. But that does not mean there are no solutions. There are plenty of solutions, three of which are discussed below.
1. More Flat Rate Services
A good place to start is for the industry to make a concerted effort to offer more flat rate services. Flat rates are fairly common for things like real estate transactions and handling divorce. But there’s plenty of room for law firms to expand their flat rate services. It’s not necessary to always charge by the hour.
Believe it or not, there are attorneys now fully embracing the flat rate concept and combining it with the same model that powers concierge medicine. They charge clients a monthly or annual fee in exchange for an agreed-upon level of service. This is a great alternative for individuals and small businesses that require regular, routine legal services.
2. One-Stop Legal Centers
While it’s true that free legal representation for all is not sustainable, Philly’s idea of establishing one-stop legal centers is a good one. The one-stop concept can work both practically and financially if it is structured correctly. Think of it in terms of the economics of scale.
A large retailer like Walmart takes advantage of the economics of scale to offer discounted prices. They have mastered the concept to the degree that there is at least one Walmart in virtually every community in the nation. The same philosophy could be applied to one-stop retail legal centers that offer more reasonable pricing.
3. Mobile, On-Demand Law
Third on the list is mobile, on-demand Law. If you’re not sure what this is, just think about how many economic opportunities are available to you through your smartphone. Take medical care, for example. Did you know you can download an app that gives you access to a primary care physician at the tap of your screen? On-demand primary care is now a real thing.
That same concept can be applied to the legal sector. Law firms could develop apps that give clients access to attorneys via their mobile devices. On-demand law could be offered for minor issues like dealing with traffic tickets, reviewing a real estate contract, and so forth. These sorts of services could be offered at a lower price because they are completed quickly and with very little work required by the attorney.
Powered by Software
All three strategies would need cloud-based case management software to keep track of everything. But that’s not a problem, according to the people at NuLaw. Their case management application is just one of several competing products that apply the concepts of customer relationship management (CRM) to the practice of law.
Legal services can be made more accessible to more people with the right strategies in place. The only question is whether or not the legal sector has the will to make it happen.