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Personal Legal Services in the U.S.


                Winners and Losers:
     Lessons from the U.S. Legal Services Market
                 Richard S. Granat
         Co-Chair, E-Lawyering Task Force
              American Bar Association
Size of U.S. Consumer Legal Market

• 50% of middle income households in the U.S. have at
  least one legal problem per year.

• Only 20% seek legal assistance from attorneys.

• 26% do nothing at all.

• An increasing percentage of consumers seek
  alternatives to lawyers such as self-help, e.g., Nolo.

• Potentially huge market waiting to be tapped in the
  U.S. for personal consumer legal services.
U.S. Market for Legal Services
Reasons people give for staying away from lawyers:
  1. Doubts that it would help;
  2. A sense that the problem is not
     serious enough;
  3. A desire to handle matters on their
     own;
  4. Biggest reason is affordability.
Internet Innovation: 1999-2001
• Creation of Internet-based legal service
  companies funded by venture capital in this
  period, before the dot.com crash.
• Attempt to serve this “latent” consumer
  demand.
• Examples are USLaw.com,
  Americounsel.com., thelaw.com. All of these
  companies failed.
• Why? Delivered traditional legal services in
  the typical way - mostly referral sites to
  existing law firms. There was no innovation.
What the U.S. Consumer Wants
• A different value proposition
• A much lower price for legal services
• A system where legal services are not billed
  by the hour
• More convenient, faster, and trustworthy
  services
• Internet-based legal service
• Systems which take the risk out of buying
  legal service
Consumer Drivers
• Better educated & willing to try self-help
• Willing to explore alternative to traditional law firms
• Willing to sub-optimize
• Coming ubiquity of broadband net access in the
  U.S.
• Consumers want solutions without the
  complications of a traditional law firm experience.
The Potential of the Web
•   Lower cost
•   Convenient
•   Faster and better client experience
•   Consistent with evolving consumer behaviors
•   Digitally-based legal services that can scale
    and have wide distribution
Need for Disruptive Innovation
• Innovation that changes market structure –
  not innovation that increases the efficiency of
  existing law firms.
• Google is a convenient example. The major
  TV networks book revenue from 300 to 400
  customers. Google has more than 600,000
  customers. They have fundamentally
  restructured that part of the advertising
  industry.
Barriers to Innovation in the U.S.
• Over-regulation in the U.S. market protects
  law firms from competition.
• Examples:
  – Rules Against Unauthorized Practice of Law
  – Marketing restrictions
  – Inadequate capitalization and antiquated
    ownership structure
  – No research and development to create new
    innovative delivery systems
• Law firm cultural constraints
U.S. Law Firm Technology Trends

• Research from the ABA Legal
  Technology Center
• E-Lawyering is stagnant:
  –   Only 10% use client intake questionnaires
  –   Only 5% use online form preparation
  –   Only 2% do real-time consultations
  –   Only 1% do online dispute resolution
  –   Only 1% use legal expert systems
What if the Barriers are Removed?

• Web-enabled legal services that
  combine traditional legal services with a
  digital component
• Pure play digital solutions to legal
  problems evolve, e.g., web-enabled
  document automation
• Information technology leverage in the
  delivery of legal services
Let’s Remove the Shackles!!

• New Players enter the Market
• Entrepreneurial individuals are attracted
  to innovate because of the size of the
  market.
• Capital flows into the industry
• New methods of marketing and
  management are adopted.
Disruptive Change and Elasticity

• Elasticity kicks in as costs go down.
• As costs go down, the market greatly
  expands converting “latent demand”
  into “effective demand”.
• This is not going to happen quickly in
  the U.S., but it will happen.
Losers: Solos & Small Law Firms
• Highly fragmented
• Under-capitalized
• Low level use of technology
  – Mainly word processing and billing
• Not truly web-enabled
• One-to-one relationship model
  – Limited “reach”
  – Limited “information technology leverage”
Winners in the U.S. for Now
• Legal information companies such as
  MyLawyer.com and Legalzoom.com.
• New, non-lawyer retail operations such
  as We the People USA, Inc.
• Financial institutions that figure out a
  way to get around U.S. regulatory
  constraints and add personal legal
  services to their portfolio of services.
More Winners
• Virtual law firms that operate on the Net

• Law Firms that develop “packaged”
  legal solutions at a fixed price
Tomorrow in the U.S.
• Regulatory barriers will come down.
• Pre-paid legal insurance programs will
  expand because insurance carriers are
  exempt from some regulatory constraints.
• New players will come into the market.
• The U.S. will copy innovations in the U.K. if
  they happen.
• Huge, new opportunities will emerge to serve
  the broad middle class.

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Uslegalservices2008

  • 1. Personal Legal Services in the U.S. Winners and Losers: Lessons from the U.S. Legal Services Market Richard S. Granat Co-Chair, E-Lawyering Task Force American Bar Association
  • 2. Size of U.S. Consumer Legal Market • 50% of middle income households in the U.S. have at least one legal problem per year. • Only 20% seek legal assistance from attorneys. • 26% do nothing at all. • An increasing percentage of consumers seek alternatives to lawyers such as self-help, e.g., Nolo. • Potentially huge market waiting to be tapped in the U.S. for personal consumer legal services.
  • 3. U.S. Market for Legal Services Reasons people give for staying away from lawyers: 1. Doubts that it would help; 2. A sense that the problem is not serious enough; 3. A desire to handle matters on their own; 4. Biggest reason is affordability.
  • 4. Internet Innovation: 1999-2001 • Creation of Internet-based legal service companies funded by venture capital in this period, before the dot.com crash. • Attempt to serve this “latent” consumer demand. • Examples are USLaw.com, Americounsel.com., thelaw.com. All of these companies failed. • Why? Delivered traditional legal services in the typical way - mostly referral sites to existing law firms. There was no innovation.
  • 5. What the U.S. Consumer Wants • A different value proposition • A much lower price for legal services • A system where legal services are not billed by the hour • More convenient, faster, and trustworthy services • Internet-based legal service • Systems which take the risk out of buying legal service
  • 6. Consumer Drivers • Better educated & willing to try self-help • Willing to explore alternative to traditional law firms • Willing to sub-optimize • Coming ubiquity of broadband net access in the U.S. • Consumers want solutions without the complications of a traditional law firm experience.
  • 7. The Potential of the Web • Lower cost • Convenient • Faster and better client experience • Consistent with evolving consumer behaviors • Digitally-based legal services that can scale and have wide distribution
  • 8. Need for Disruptive Innovation • Innovation that changes market structure – not innovation that increases the efficiency of existing law firms. • Google is a convenient example. The major TV networks book revenue from 300 to 400 customers. Google has more than 600,000 customers. They have fundamentally restructured that part of the advertising industry.
  • 9. Barriers to Innovation in the U.S. • Over-regulation in the U.S. market protects law firms from competition. • Examples: – Rules Against Unauthorized Practice of Law – Marketing restrictions – Inadequate capitalization and antiquated ownership structure – No research and development to create new innovative delivery systems • Law firm cultural constraints
  • 10. U.S. Law Firm Technology Trends • Research from the ABA Legal Technology Center • E-Lawyering is stagnant: – Only 10% use client intake questionnaires – Only 5% use online form preparation – Only 2% do real-time consultations – Only 1% do online dispute resolution – Only 1% use legal expert systems
  • 11. What if the Barriers are Removed? • Web-enabled legal services that combine traditional legal services with a digital component • Pure play digital solutions to legal problems evolve, e.g., web-enabled document automation • Information technology leverage in the delivery of legal services
  • 12. Let’s Remove the Shackles!! • New Players enter the Market • Entrepreneurial individuals are attracted to innovate because of the size of the market. • Capital flows into the industry • New methods of marketing and management are adopted.
  • 13. Disruptive Change and Elasticity • Elasticity kicks in as costs go down. • As costs go down, the market greatly expands converting “latent demand” into “effective demand”. • This is not going to happen quickly in the U.S., but it will happen.
  • 14. Losers: Solos & Small Law Firms • Highly fragmented • Under-capitalized • Low level use of technology – Mainly word processing and billing • Not truly web-enabled • One-to-one relationship model – Limited “reach” – Limited “information technology leverage”
  • 15. Winners in the U.S. for Now • Legal information companies such as MyLawyer.com and Legalzoom.com. • New, non-lawyer retail operations such as We the People USA, Inc. • Financial institutions that figure out a way to get around U.S. regulatory constraints and add personal legal services to their portfolio of services.
  • 16. More Winners • Virtual law firms that operate on the Net • Law Firms that develop “packaged” legal solutions at a fixed price
  • 17. Tomorrow in the U.S. • Regulatory barriers will come down. • Pre-paid legal insurance programs will expand because insurance carriers are exempt from some regulatory constraints. • New players will come into the market. • The U.S. will copy innovations in the U.K. if they happen. • Huge, new opportunities will emerge to serve the broad middle class.