Law Firm Websites That Work
Posted Apr 1, 2009 10:10 PM CST
By Richard Granat
The website of Chicago firm Cowell Taradash is an excellent example of a law firm offering limited legal services online in the area of divorce and family law. In fact, last year the site won the James I. Keane Memorial Award for Excellence in eLawyering from the ABA’s Law Practice Management Section.
Illinoisdivorce.com has not received much publicity for the innovative way it reaches out to clients and prospective clients. It is filled with hundreds of pages of articles on Illinois family and divorce law. It is very easy to navigate, and contact with the firm’s lawyers is made easy with telephone info, e-mail links and embedded contact forms.
Finally, Cowell Taradash’s site has interactive features that make it more than a first-stage “brochure-ware” website. Clients can ask general legal questions in family law and an attorney will respond by e-mail. More complex questions requiring specific legal advice require the user to become a client.
Clients can complete an online questionnaire and hire the firm for an uncontested divorce for a flat fee. If users want to represent themselves in an uncontested divorce, they can select a coaching service where, for a modest fixed fee of less than $200, legal forms can be created and completed online. The entire transaction can be paid for with a credit card.
Illinoisdivorce.com demonstrates that a law firm can be an effective competitor in offering limited legal services online that combine the benefits of using an attorney with a fixed fee.
Kimbro Legal Services is a virtual solo practice operated by Stephanie L. Kimbro in Wilmington, N.C. Her specialties are estate planning and small-business law.
The practice exists solely on the Internet, with the website as a gateway. This firm also offers limited legal services for a fixed fee with the goal of reaching the broad middle class with a cost-effective and efficient solution.
Consistent with other firms that have adopted the “limited legal service” practice, the site has a long list of services it offers for a fixed price.
Yet the brilliance of the site is not obvious until the user registers and becomes a client. Using a secure Web-based platform, the client can interact with Kimbro with complete confidence of security and confidentiality. Clients get the equivalent of a personal internal home page where they can communicate and collaborate with Kimbro, upload documents for legal review, pay legal bills online, and transact other legal business.
The generation reared on MySpace and Facebook will want to communicate with a law firm over the Internet, and having virtual-law-office capability will become essential for tomorrow’s firms.
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Richard Granat is CEO of DirectLaw Inc., a legal services firm in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., specializing in creating legal solutions that serve consumers directly. He is also co-chair of the eLawyering Task Force of the ABA’s Law Practice Management Section.