With clients increasingly weary of the billable-hour model and the influx of online legal service providers, attorney and entrepreneur Heather Pearce Campbell wants to see lawyers rethink their approach to the business.
“We tend to as a group not be early adopters of change,” said Campbell, a Seattle lawyer scheduled to speak Thursday at the Maryland State Bar Association’s Legal Summit & Annual meeting on “Adapting to Market Disruption: How to Build Your Practice By Thinking Like a Business, Not a Lawyer.”
Through her presentation, Campbell hopes to give attorneys who have some influence over their firm’s business operations tips on changes they can make in how they deliver legal services to clients, how to serve more people and provide those services through more flexible pricing.
“Law has a very limited funnel. The offering is that you pay a steep hourly rate and your attorney does everything,” Campbell said.
The model is being challenged, however, as people look for ways to make legal information more accessible and also meet legal needs, often at lower prices.
“A large section of the (legal) market is not examining that issue enough,” Campbell said.
Campbell describes herself as a “non-traditional person in law.” She has a real estate and business law practice but also an online business for “information entrepreneurs,” such as speakers and authors, who need legal help but do not have a separate legal budget.
The website, Legal Website Warrior, is tailored to specific businesses and offers bundled packages based on client needs. It is designed to fit legal needs between websites such as LegalZoom and one-on-one service with an attorney.
Campbell said businesses across the country are using Legal Website Warrior, as well as people abroad who need to make sure they comply with email marketing rules in the United States.
There are some concepts lawyers can borrow from businesses, Campbell said, such as the firms she serves through Legal Website Warrior. One way is to frontload client education through reports, client guidebooks, case studies and workshops. Those resources can make clients better informed so they know what they need. Having that information will also make them better clients and in turn, appreciate what their lawyer is doing, Campbell said.
“Law is still a relationship and people want to consult with someone who they know, like and trust. That education can help that perception,” she said.
Campbell’s presentation is part of a new “Thought Leader Series” at this year’s MSBA annual meeting. The MSBA is “dipping their toe in the water” by identifying legitimate thought leaders in the legal world through social media to bring to members, said Victor Velazquez, executive director of the MSBA.
Velazquez reached out to Campbell after seeing her LinkedIn profile.
“The goal is the MSBA is going to be more focused on finding the stars and the thought leaders in the profession and showcasing those in various venues,” Velazquez said.