Will your firm survive in the ABS world?

Posted: 28 February 2012

Will a handful of people and organizations change the way people access legal services? My guess is they will.

Right now law firms may offer great specialist advice and even wonderful customer service at times but they by their intrinsic nature have to turn away 92% of people who approach them. Does that sound like a great place to be as a business? (Yes, law firms are businesses with customers!)

Let me explain my thinking. Right now a law firm is set up to run unfair dismissal claims, run divorce procedures and to litigate in boundary disputes BUT my feeling is that at least 90% of potential clients are not at that exact moment in time when they start needing legal help and hand-holding.

Let me give you an example. A women with young children fears her husband is having an affair and will leave her. The last thing in the world she wants is a divorce but she wants to get access to legal advice as to what would happen if... x,y,z. Would a law firm be willing to advise 500 people a month if the fees were for a 45 minute conversation only? No.I hear some of you saying that firms will offer 30 minutes for free – true, but they wont market that fact to the masses as their business model cannot handle that sort of enquiry and in the worst case they even call such potential customers time wasters!

Another example: a chap fears he will be fired in a redundancy process and does not trust HR to select fairly so he phones a law firm. The first question asked of him is “Have you been dismissed in the last 90 days?” No… another time waster as he has no case, no prospects and would not be willing to part with £100’s for hand holding information and guidance.

Conclusion: neither of these people are time wasters. They are acting in good faith and need legal help and will pay fair value for that help. If they get it they may very well become future clients when the time and circumstances are right.

The mass market want legal help but rarely a law firm at the initial point of contact. What is needed is a private paying, affordable and friendly and 24/7 equivalent of the Citizens Advice Bureau. Whoever meets these broad needs will certainly be the ones who are first to be contacted upon a divorce or unfair dismissal claim being necessary.

Thought for the day... are we building our services and product as lawyers and innovators around what customers ask for or around the firms existing infrastructure. If you are in the second camp I can see why all the talk of ‘Tesco Law’ is a bit scary.

  Have you got a minute for a quick question?

Thank you for your response.