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  • Story of my first encounter with free.
  • Fast forward 15 years, and we find that there’s a huge amount of products and services to run our practices. Some - like legal research, practice management tools or business cards make free services that we once purchased. And other free products - email or social media - give us access to tools that existed only in our imagination.
  • As lawyers our own experience with free is PROOF. Proof that free can be faster and cheaper and yes, even better. Free (and cheap) is enabling today’s lawyers and run law firms for a fraction of the costs needed for 15 years ago. And that’s not only good for lawyers, but clients as well. Because if we can do more with less, we can expand to justice for those who once couldn’t afford it.
  • But just as we are beneficiaries of free, so too, we may become its casualties. Because just as we lawyers use free to save money and capture efficiencies, when it comes to legal services, potential clients are using free for the same reasons.
  • Legal services are free or close to free - Legal einstein Legal doyourownwill.com, mycorporation.com, whichdraft.com. Even free legal research for the public on Google. Free access to legal documents
  • Legal profession is now undergoing a process akin to stages of grief over free.
  • We lawyers are using free as good enough - fast case, google legal. Not all the time, but some of the time. It’s a business opportunity. Need to realize all people want is good enough. Can we give people good enough? (or decide not to serve good enough and focus on high end in cases where people want it - people still pay $4 for starbucks, hundreds for fancy hotel)
  • Makes it so even fewer people will use us. (harder to access lawyers w/out internet option)
  • Customers expect free and there’s so much available. The reality is that if you don’t give something away free - a consult or ebook or lunch at a seminar, consumers have other choices. And - it’s not just clients with resources. Corporate clients are choosing lawyers partly on perks like free CLE and secondments.
  • The faster we can accept the changing world, the better.
  • When price approaches zero, our opportunities will eventually reach zero. What if we took the idea of zero as price and flipped it on its head. Then, we’d see that our opportunities are infinite. That’s the purpose of my talk. To get you to look at free in a different way. To lose your misconceptions and suspicions of free and see it as something that we can use to expand our opportunities rather than limit them.
  • How do we
  • How do we
  • Free business plan review. To give insight
  • Wills for college students, LLCs for home based businesses, copyrights for bloggers. Diagnosis tools (example MyShingle) - series of scored questions that will inform prospects if they need legal help and if so, what kind.
  • Wills for college students, LLCs for home based businesses, copyrights for bloggers. Diagnosis tools (example MyShingle) - series of scored questions that will inform prospects if they need legal help and if so, what kind.
  • Wills for college students, LLCs for home based businesses, copyrights for bloggers. Diagnosis tools (example MyShingle) - series of scored questions that will inform prospects if they need legal help and if so, what kind.
  • So cheap that we can give away things of value. Why give a pen or a note pad? Give something really cool? Is it costly? How many people pay $60 to get a great client? Why not pay same amount to keep one & have they market for you?
  • How do we
  • Minnesotafree2

    1. 1. $  0 One, Two, Free! Endless Challenges and Infinite Opportunities for Lawyers When Price Approaches Zero @Carolyn Elefant, MyShingle.com MN Solo & Small Firm Conf. 2010
    2. 2. Cornell LII: One Lawyer’s Free Epiphany Cornell LII circa 1995  Cornell LII 2010 
    3. 3. Justia, Thomas.loc.gov: FREE .10-.25/page + trip to courthouse or Congress Court Documents, Legislation GoogleDocs, Zoho: FREE @$500 for license for Amicus, PC Law, etc.. LPM Tools Social media, blogs, DIY web presence: FREE $600/year (MH special!) $250 - 1/4 page in paper Yellow Pages $200/month) Advertising Gmail, Yahoo: FREE Not yet in wide circulation Email VistaPrint: FREE $125 for 250 cards Business Cards Efax: FREE $1/page send or receive Fax Google Voice: FREE Receptionist Service ($50-$100/month) Call Forwarding Freeconferencecall: FREE ATT (via operator) .50 cents/minute Conference Call GoogleLegal, Fastcase: FREE LEXIS - $600/month, limited search Legal Research 2010 1994 Product/Yr.
    4. 4. Free = Faster + Cheaper + Better Free = (expand)access to justice
    5. 5. So too, we may become its casualties . Just as lawyers are the beneficiaries of free…
    6. 6. Free Wills Free Contracts Free Legal Research Free Corporation Free Copyright
    7. 7. H/T Stages of Grief Over FREE
    8. 8. DENIAL No way! Technology can never replace What lawyers do. (I’m a JD!) A free will? You get what You pay for.
    9. 9. You get what you pay for… but often that’s good enough
    10. 10. ANGER Yeah, let’s shut down Legal Zoom and deprive consumers of the only choice they can afford. Cloud computing and online legal services are A danger to clients - we can’t allow that!
    11. 11. DEPRESSION I spent $100k on a law degree and I’ve Been displaced by a computer program That can do document review. If Top 10 law grads are getting laid off, what Hope do I have for a future In the law?
    12. 12. BARGAINING Well, maybe I’ll give away just a little bit, as long As I can get paid for most of what I do.
    13. 13. They won’t buy the cow if you give away the milk for free But if you don’t spill some milk they won’t even look at the cow
    14. 14. ACCEPTANCE the faster that lawyers can accept the world as it is in the 21st century and not as it was in the 19th century, the better
    15. 15. Opportunity for Success= Function (Price) When Price approaches 0, Opportunity = 0 Opportunity = Function (1/Price) When Price approaches 0, Opportunity = 1/0 or Opportunities are infinite!
    16. 16. 8 Rules of FREE
    17. 17. Rule #1: Free is not a stand-alone business model. If you compete on price, you will lose in a race to the bottom.
    18. 18. Rule #2: If you give away time free , you won’t have any free time . Leverage technology or expertise to keep marginal costs near zero.
    19. 19. Rule #3: Use free as a strategic shortcut.
    20. 20. Examples of free as a shortcut: to get information to expedite preparation or strengthen a case
    21. 21. Rule #4: Use free to expand the pie and capture clients who otherwise wouldn’t have hired a lawyer. Examples: Free wills or LLCs for populations you want to attract. Free “diagnosis tools at website. Free annual review (with fee for resulting work).
    22. 22. Rule #5: Make free addictive so that people will pay eventually! Blogs, newsletters & client alerts Hard to break the habit after law school!
    23. 23. Rule #6: Increase the value of free by limiting it. Examples: Limited time of year offer. Limited free consultations. Free coupon to paid client.
    24. 24. Rule #7: Never forget that free thrills . Free lunch with divorce. Free flash drive for documents Free books to explain case process. Free tech help Free password legacy service Free apps
    25. 25. Rule #8: Free doesn’t mean free from liability. Consult applicable ethics rules and malpractice carrier. Use disclaimers if needed.
    26. 26. The Future of FREE
    27. 27. Can lawyers push free too far? Free support groups for victims? Work free, sell client data to subsidize free service (with client consent)? Keep an eye on the UK Legal Services Act, effective Jan.2011
    28. 28. FREE = Abundance. Possibility. Access to Justice . Contact: Carolyn Elefant, MyShingle.com [email_address] 202-297-6100