ABA Journal


Business of Law

Some Brick-and-Mortar Law Firms Also Offer Cheaper, Web-Based Services

Nov 8, 2012, 12:00 pm CST


Conflicts have to be a huge problem with this service model. Given the difficulty establishing anybody's identity in Internet-based communications, lawyers could well end up advising parties on opposing sides of a case or issue without even realizing it.

By B. McLeod on 2012 11 08, 1:16 pm CST

I hope I am retired before we all lose our personal contact with clients, witnesses, jurors, etc. That is part of the magic and the fun of practicing law.

By JimfromBham on 2012 11 28, 1:39 pm CST

To #1: The technology is there to establish a person is who she says she is. Fortuntely, the technology is becoming cheaper, better and common.

Laws pervade just about everything nowadays. Often, the cops don't even know it.

I believe this platform holds great promise for providing clients of modest means with good advice that they would not otherwise receive unless they had a case that could be paid for with alternative financing arrangements, e.g. contingency.

By Adam on 2012 11 28, 3:43 pm CST

If we're just talking about getting general legal information on a surface level, this probably isn't so bad. But, if we're talking a real, substantial attorney-client relationship with the performance of substantial legal work, this seems like a great model to get sued for legal malpractice and/or suspended for ethics violations.

Also, it has been my experience that usually the clients given the deepest fee discounts at the outset of the representation are ones most likely to express dissatisfaction with fees and service. These are generally the same people who demand more time and attention than their matter requires. Then they balk at the discounted fees, without a clue of the amount of time you have written off in the name of "client relations". This model sound like a great way to attract clients of this ilk. By the way, I address this issue by not discounting at the outset so I can determine who is serious and who wants to waste my time. I always work really hard to give my clients a fee estimate that is reasonable and to stay a close as possible to the estimate. If the scope of the representation changes significantly, I try to discuss that as early as possible.

So, this models seems like a great formula for losing your license and increasing the probability that you'll endure a lot of grief ifrom difficult clients in the process.

We need a different fee structure for delivery of legal services to those of modest means. To me, the flat fee and contingent fee have worked well in most instances. We may need additional fee structures when these structures are not feasible. But the cyberspace model described in this article doesn't seem like a good model to me.

By AND THE BEAT GOES ON on 2012 11 28, 8:10 pm CST

So far, no one has stopped Shapiro from packaging forms and selling them on-line. Is he licensed to practice in all the states he advertises in? I haven't seen him at any bar meetings.

By FRANK MARTIN on 2012 11 28, 9:16 pm CST

All of the legal forms I've seen have a proviso that the person utilizing the form should seek legal advice because the forms may not meet the legal requirements of the buyer's state or particular circumstances. If the buyer uses the form without getting competent legal advice, to me that is pro se representation.

By AND THE BEAT GOES ON on 2012 11 29, 11:23 pm CST

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