BusinessDay
NigeriaDecides2023

How to productise your legal services to work less and earn more

Carrying out legal services for clients takes time, and there are only so many hours in the day you can sell. That’s why law firms are hard to scale. There is some good news though: you can grow your law firm efficiently by productising your legal services.

What is a productised legal service?
Productised legal services bridge the gap between a product and legal services. They are a new type of legal services where intellectual property is leveraged, processes are standardised and most of the legal work is automated by software. They are otherwise known as “online legal solutions”.

Why are online legal solutions more scalable?
Because selling legal services involves meeting with clients, learning about their situation, collecting information from them, creating a strategy and providing advice, drafting legal documents and other paperwork, and getting results for them. You also need to spend time before you take on a new client to evaluate their situation to see if you can add value and determine how long the legal service they require will take – this takes up even more of your valuable time.
By comparison, online legal solutions are scalable because:
● You can sell the same legal solution to 5 clients or 500 clients.
● The price and what is included is stated upfront – you don’t need to spend as much time explaining things and dealing with tire kickers.
● You can promote an online legal solution using all types of digital marketing – webinars, content marketing, email marketing and SEO. You don’t need to rely on referrals and networking.
● You can sell to anyone in your jurisdiction or even the whole world – you’re not limited to people living in your town or city.

How to productise your legal services
There are four basic online legal solution models you can use: one-off purchases; monthly subscriptions; bespoke document libraries, and foot-in-the-door (FITD) offers.
1. One-off purchases: Instead of manually carrying out one-off legal services for your clients, like helping a client do a Will or purchase a house, you can standardise these legal services and documents so clients can purchase them from your firm’s website.

A lot of the manual work can be automated. This is ideal for law firms that want to streamline the sales and marketing of their legal services, and have clients who need legal services once a year or every couple of years – usually private clients, startups and SMEs.

Read also: Thou shalt not advertise – the line between business development and solicitation

To productise, review the different types of one-off legal work you’ve done for clients and what was involved – ask yourself: What was the scope? How long did it take you and your team to do the work? How much did you charge? Was it profitable? How could you standardise it?

Once you can see which of your services can become standardised online legal solutions, you can look at which tasks can be automated. Many of the tasks within legal services can be automated, like scheduling appointments, interviewing clients, collecting information, drafting documents, signing documents, invoicing and taking payment can all be automated.

2. Subscription-based: You will have clients who you do legal work for regularly and then send them an invoice based on time or an agreed fixed fee. The subscription-based model is where you put these clients on a monthly subscription (that’s recurring revenue!) where there they get access to a range of legal bots that create customised legal documents, other legal help resources like guides and videos, and a certain amount of legal advice from a lawyer each month.

Subscriptions are like a modern, productised version of retainers – they allow you to be more transparent about your retainers and fit them into standardised tiers. Giving clients these options provides ongoing value without you having to manually carry out all the work.

This is ideal for law firms with clients who need legal services regularly, like startups that need regular access to a range of legal documents such as NDAs, or corporates that need resolutions prepared regularly. To commence, create a list of the clients you regularly do work for. Look for ways they can be grouped together – if you specialise in a particular area of law this will be easier than if you are more of a generalist.

Then within those groups of clients, look at the lower value engagements and create a subscription plan for that type of client that offers them the minimum amount of help resources and legal work, and work up to your higher value clients and create a plan that gives them the value they need.

For example, you may specialise in working with probate matters so you could create a bronze, silver and gold subscription plans depending on the size and needs of each client. You could also have an enterprise subscription plan for your very best clients to give them a more tailored service. Once you’ve created an outline of your subscription plans, you can work out how you will deliver value under each plan in the most efficient way. So instead of drafting documents like NDAs for clients each time they need one, you can give them access to an NDA legal bot – that way they can serve themselves each time they need an NDA prepared.

3. Bespoke document libraries: This is an exciting new type of online legal solution – it’s where lawyers use automation technology to build and maintain document libraries for their corporate clients. This is ideal for law firms that have corporate clients with inhouse teams that regularly get you to draft legal documents, as well as inhouse teams that have their own legal document templates and forms that they use regularly. To productise, create a list of corporate clients you regularly prepare legal documents for, as well as corporate clients that have their own legal document templates and forms.

Then you need to come up with some pricing and a sales pitch. It is worth doing a pilot of this service with 1 or 2 corporate clients that you have a really good relationship with – approach them first so you can test it (as well as your pricing and your sales pitch!) out with them and improve it as you go.

4. Foot-in-the-door (FITD): FITD is a way to generate high-quality client leads – you offer something of value to your ideal target client for free or at a low cost on your firm’s website. This is ideal for law firms that want more clients or to generate more legal work from existing clients. To achieve this, think of how you can create an irresistible mini version of your service and package it into a product. It could be a free customised legal document, how-to guide, checklist, cheatsheet, video course, webinar, audit, ebook, template….or something else.

In exchange for you providing this excellent value, you get email addresses, phone numbers and other info from potential clients. These contact details give you the opportunity to build rapport and trust with these potential clients – this can be done by email nurture sequences and follow up phone calls.

Conclusion
There’s a largely untapped market opportunity currently being served by non-law firms and other online alternatives. Lawyers can serve this emerging market, remain viable, and scale their businesses by offering online legal solutions (aka productised legal services). Empower your clients through the smart use of legal tech, diversify revenue beyond billables, and create a law firm of the future. Leverage your valuable intellectual property to create online legal solutions. It’s like having your own secret sauce.

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