The legal industry has been around for an extremely long time, but firms will have to change in the future as increased competition and technology increasingly affects the profitability and success of legal businesses.
While many lawyers are reluctant to make changes, there is increasingly a need to focus on new or alternative business avenues that can add to the revenue streams available to lawyers.
Some firms are already taking action to vary or diversify their businesses. But clients too are becoming much more discriminatory about how and to whom they will be paying their legal fees in future.
So there are opportunities for lawyers to diversity their incomes and the manner in which they can earn future revenues in an increasingly competitive and tech-driven legal world. Remember that ‘hours’ billed is becoming less relevant as technology and invoice-resistance increases among legal clients.
Here are five ways in which lawyers can start changing the way they operate and building additional revenues.
1. Creating Their Own Will
Clients will come and speak to you about setting up a will and it remains one area that provides significant income earning potential, particularly if it is streamlined and potentially attached to other, related trust and estate services.
There wasn’t any other effective ways to provide easy and usable legal forms in the past, but now it’s possible to complete anything online with the development of technology, artificial intelligence and other applications. For example, look at www.formalwill.ca online will forms as one example of simple online wills and their creation.
There will still be people who come in to see you. Some potential clients can be guided through their options using videos and documents. They will walk away if they’re not offered the chance to submit their wills the modern way.
2. Offering Free Legal Advice
I’m sure a lot of your clients come in because they want to pick your brain but not necessary pay fees. The ability to provide online legal advice is growing all the time and if surrounded by up-sells, service advertising and other revenue streams it can generate revenues that tap into your own legal expertise, but also permit passive income forms to create a profitable business.
Developing an effective and authoritative online law advice service is something that can build business and your tech ‘savvy’ in a way that can create very significant additional fee revenue if proper structures and channels are used to facilitate additional, paid legal services.
3. Become a Thought Leader
The development of online legal sources and sites has created a great opportunity for lawyers to develop their expertise as thought leaders where your expertise is communicated to referral and other sources.
For instance, a leader in trusts can generate income via referrals to other professionals, including accounting firms. This is effectively leveraging your own legal knowledge to create revenue across different legal areas but without actually doing the legal work. You are a specialist and a business generating revenue via a referral network.
4. Speaking To Clients Online
Do you really need to go into the office all the time? You could do a lot of client consultations online. If you use software like Skype it’s easy, plus there are more professionals options available.
You’ll be able to charge people less money while still making a large profit. You will be able to squeeze more consultations into the day too. The software is secure so you won’t need to worry about privacy issues either.
5. Applying For A Trademark
New businesses want to apply for a trademark all the time, but it’s likely they’ll be turned down when doing it on their own. There are multiple areas in the developing intellectual property area including trade marks, IP protection and related issues, which can be handled via online sources also.
Firstly, you can get them to complete a standard questionnaire to give you an idea what they want. You can then do a bit research to find out if it’s feasible. You’ll also be able to submit the application for them too.
It’s Worth Testing Them Out
If you want to grow your legal business test these online services out and increase the array of law and law-related services you have. The fast developing law market is seeing radical changes and there are companies that will readily embrace alternative and additional services, quite apart from the changes being brought to the law business by technology.
One of the things any lawyer can do immediately is to start building a network of contacts and focus on their particular area(s) of expertise, from which to leverage and using technology to maximize their distribution channels and income
Abe Graham is a freelance writer on industry issues in the law and related areas. He has advised law firms and small businesses on their ability to grow their income streams via alternative ‘outside the box’ thinking.