I was watching one of my favourite movies, Forrest Gump, the other night; a wonderful and heart-warming film.
I still pretty much well-up and cry throughout the whole film.
If you have seen the film, cast your mind back to the scene where Bubba Gump has a conversation with Forrest Gump about Shrimps and the Fruit of the Sea.
That delicious little conversation between Bubba and Forrest set my content marketing pulse racing.
Content Marketing: Shrimps and the Fruit of the Sea
Bubba engages Forrest with a question on his specialist subject the versatility of the shrimp:
“Anyway, like I was sayin', shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, sauté it. There, uh, shrimp kabobs, shrimp creole....shrimp gumbo, pan-fried, deep fried, stir fried. There's pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp...shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich... that's, that's about it.”
I think you’ll agree quite a challenge to name all the multiple uses of that little decapod crustacean: the shrimp.
That exchange neatly encapsulates how I think law firms should be thinking about what legal content to create.
Self- Imposed Limitations of Law Firm Content
Many Law Firms tend to think of content and content marketing as just blogging.
Social Media is characterised by a once in a while update to LinkedIn profiles.
Most lawyers are uncomfortable in the Twittersphere and nervous (in my view correctly) of Facebook.
Law Firms feel that lack of time, irrelevance, cost or ambivalence are reasons enough to abstain from creating great legal content to educate and engage existing and potential clients alike.
But, those law firms are missing out.
Content and Social Media Marketing are now much more than the creation of articles blogs and the odd Tweet.
Great legal content is not just one dimensional.
It is so much more.
Law Firm Content as a Series and Not Just a Pilot Episode
Law firms who have the ability to create great legal content in all its forms and distribute that content via their website and through social media stand to reap a rich harvest of engaged existing clients and opportunities for potential clients to engage with your Law Firm.
Consider one piece of content and how it could be disseminated into other formats.
Think of your great legal content as a series rather than just a pilot or standalone episode.
Think of a great piece of legal content in the round. Great legal content should be something you can not only barbecue or boil but broil, bake, and sauté as well.
Put those ingredients with other media and you start being more creative.
Find your equivalent niches and recipes for pineapples, lemons and coconuts.
Slideshare and Infographics for Law Firms
I have reinvented my most read blog on Chancel Repair Liability into an Infographic cutting down almost a 1000 words into one picturewell, you know what they say.
We have just posted a Jargon Busting Slideshare presentation called: What’s the Name of That Legal Thingy?
Within 7 days of its release we had received over 2750 views and multiple likes, retweets and shares.
We’ve added to the mix eBooks, a printed book, and video on YouTube and created a hub for all our content to make it more easily accessible.
We even turned our obligatory complaints procedure into something of value and worth sharing.
Release Your Great Legal Content
Great legal content can stretch far and wide – swim (or scamper across) oceans if you will.
Ownership of great sharable legal content protects you from the vagaries of digital real estate owned by Google, Facebook, and Twitter et al.
Facebook for example has recently tweaked its algorithms to make it more difficult to publish content to as many “fans” as before. You now have to pay to get the previous coverage.
Great legal content will be shared by family friends and colleagues. Even better, if you are producing exceptional legal content, it will be shared by people outside of those immediate circles.
Think about it: your great legal content shared by people you do not know but digested and read by people who may become clients on the strength of that content.
What Will You Law Firm Content Marketing Success Look Like?
Bubba knew what success looked like:
“What you do is you just drag your nets across the bottom. On a good day, you can catch over a hundred pounds of shrimp. If everything goes all right, two men shrimpin' ten hours, less what you spends on gas, you can...”
I’ve written about fishing nets before in the context of law firm websites and how to engage with potential clients here.
If your law firm has great legal content I would love to share it and for that matter if you would like to share a box of chocolates… well perhaps an analogy too far.
Whatever analogy you choose I hope you look at content creation and the power of content marketing for your law firm in a whole new light or rather a series of lights.
And if there is anything you would help with or further explore connect with me below or in LinkedIn or on Twitter.
And that's, that's about it.
I‘ve been enjoying myself.
I’ve travelled around the country speaking to solicitors at various seminars and conferences about content marketing.
I almost managed a full 90 minutes at the Emirates Stadium (the home of you know who - *holds nose*) and came off five minutes before the end to a sitting ovation.
I particularly enjoyed being on a panel at the Legal Futures “Clicks to Client” Conference in London in June. The panel, which also included Slater & Gordon, had 5 minutes or so to tell their back-story and give a few tips and advice on how to run a successful digital or content marketing strategy for law firms.
Brevity concentrates the mind and craves the pithy so I thought about the 4 Ps.
You already know about the traditional 4 Ps of marketing - Product; Price; Promotion and Place - so I came up with my own 4 Ps of Digital or Content Marketing for Law Firms: Pragmatism; Perseverance; Patience and Passion.
The 4Ps of Content Marketing for Law Firms
A simple one but nevertheless worth emphasising.
You will not, save for the law firms with the greatest resource, be able to have a cogent presence in every social media and content marketing sphere.
Stick to what you know best and feel most comfortable in, so long as, if you have not already started do so as soon as possible.
Napoleon Hill in his book Think and Grow Rich written way back in 1938 advised:
“Do not wait: the time will never be "just right" Start where you stand, and better tools will be found along the way”
Most lawyers feel most comfortable in LinkedIn as they are in the company of other professionals. As a Business to Business model it works very well for lawyers wanting to spread news of their specialties far and wide but doesn’t really allow for interaction with clients.
Many lawyers are put off Twitter and Facebook as they are not their natural habitats.
Facebook is making it increasingly difficult (without payment!) to market yourself or your law firm
I am very much at home on Twitter and find it a great listening medium, whereas I am banjaxed by Facebook and to be honest petrified of it.
So pragmatic you must be.
Once you decide to introduce yourself and your law firm into the content marketing world and inhabit social media as ways to reach out and engage with your existing and potential or targeted audiences - you need to keep at it.
Don’t be bowled out in 31.4 overs like England last winter in Australia. You need to build an innings.
The more you try the better you will become.
You can hone your skills along the way. As Gary Player once said “the harder I practice the luckier I become”
Best-selling author Malcom Gladwell looks at Practice as not being “the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good”
There are no silver bullets, as in all examples of endeavour, it takes guts and determination to do it well.
There will be winning and losing skirmishes along the road but if you believe your are giving and adding value to your existing clients and target markets persevere and you will eventually succeed.
Patience is indeed a virtue.
You are laying the foundations for you and your law firm’s digital footprint.
You can revisit and reinvigorate your great legal content over time adding more and updated content and repurposing your content in different media as I have done with Chancel Repair Liability.
Please eschew the snake oil salesmen who promise the riches of 1st page of Google etc. 1st page of Google is relatively easy if you concentrate on intelligent long tail keywords. The holy grail is to keep your law firm at the forefront of the search engines.
Build your reserves over time and you will be repaid.
Great legal content is the gift that keeps on giving – if you are prepared to be patient.
And last but not least: Passion.
Passion, for me, is by far the most import of the 4Ps of Content Marketing for Law Firms.
Lip-service and perfunctory nods and winks to great legal content just won’t do.
You need to be passionate about creating great legal content and have a burning desire to enrich and improve your clients and potential clients informational needs.
The proof of the pudding is in the passion fruit.
And you just can’t fake it either.
Poor uncommitted content is better off not being written at all as it will fail to engage and be ignored.
I have seen all too many poor and perfunctory attempts: law firms jumping on the bandwagon of social media and (mixed metaphor alert) stomping with their hobnail boots all over Twitter and Facebook.
There will always be one or two within your law firms who have a passion and desire to succeed at Social Media and Content Marketing.
Let them loose and step back.
Why The 4 Ps of Content Marketing Are So Important
Now you may not wish to get hung up on phrases like content marketing especially when you are talking with fellow partners, members or directors.
What we really mean as lawyers when we talk about Content Marketing is simply our response to clients and potential clients informational needs for any given problem or process.
Marcus Sheridan demystifies and distils content marketing into the abilities of listening , communicating, teaching and helping customers or clients
I concluded at the Legal Futures Conference that too much time is spent by law firms worrying about the next “disruptor” in the legal services market place.
Law firms seem preoccupied with the next new entrant in to the legal services market place and overawed by new technology?
But, in my opinion, most law firms have not yet woken up to the current disruptor – the internet itself.
The traditional 4 Ps have not disappeared. But you should make extra sure that your law firm knows the new 4 Ps of Content Marketing and learn to assimilate them into your new marketing mix.
If you would like to chew the legal content marketing cud with me some more just hit the link below, I’d love to hear from you.
The World Cup is in full swing.
The excitement is palpable.
Well, admittedly, the excitement is probably more palpable in Brazil and Argentina where their expectations of victory are greater than in England.
Undoubtedly, there will be moments of great elation and crunching disappointment - bit like content marketing for your law firm in fact.
So what better time to luxuriate in some football lessons and metaphors that the World Cup can provide for you and your law firm content marketing and social media strategy.
Goals for Your Law Firm Content and Social Media Strategy
It is a simple game.
You need to score more goals than your opposition.
Carolyn Elefant and Nicole Black, two US attorneys in their book “Social Media for Lawyers – The Next Frontier” describe Social Media as:
“The ideal platform to expand your influence and showcase your expertise, effectively bringing your practice to the attention of colleagues, the media and potential clients.
If you use social media wisely and narrowly tailor your online activities toward the pursuit of specific goals, in this case, showcasing your expertise you will easily stand out from the crowd”
Each time you reach out to a client or potential client via your great legal content or through social media and educate or improve their knowledge, you will attain those goals.
In the immortal words of Alan Partridge “Back of the Net!” and lest we forget David Coleman “One-Nil”
Pumping Long Balls Down the Pitch
I’m afraid we’ve all been there: Big Law and Small Law
Our approach and the approach of many other law firms was to use the same old tactic.
As soon as an existing matter was completed we sought to ensure those clients knew all about our other areas of legal specialty.
Not so much a cross-field pass but the under used cross-selling opportunity.
Except that we rarely did.
A hoof of the ball down the pitch every once in a while became the sum total of our ambition.
You never knew we might get lucky once and score.
The result: more often rather than scoring our goals we were leaking own goals.
We’ve lost existing clients to the lure of the new and incomprehensible ( insert your own competing law firm here)
“Just didn’t know you did that as well”
“Assumed that as they said they could do it they must be experts as well”
Modern football has changed- pass, movement, false No.9, 4-2-3-1, high-line, in the pocket, through the channels, innovation- so must your law firm marketing
1966 And All That
England won the World Cup in 1966.
Can our law firm not bask in the former glories of our aged law firm marketing?
Richard Susskind said in an interview in National Law Journal in the US that:-
“Law firms are less interested in achieving competitive advantage than in avoiding competitive disadvantage. They are far more worried about their competitors are doing than what the correct strategy is for them”
In footballing parlance that translates into dour unimaginative football, making no mistakes, keeping a clean sheet and playing for a penalty shoot-out (please England let’s be more positive than that)
Be bloody bold and resolute in your law firm content marketing
Group of Death
There’s always a group of death.
You get lumped in with the pre –tournament favourites, second favourites and the in-form team.
But can you afford to lose 3 games or 3 transactions.
No law firm can afford to lose clients no matter how stiff the competition.
Ensure you keep in contact with your existing clients and keep them happy with your great legal content.
Heavy legged, knackered after a long and arduous domestic campaign?
And why is it always England that seems to suffer from tournament burnout?
Content marketing is a tough slog but you should have enough about you to ride out the exhaustion or content droughts.
Conserve your energy to its best use.
If you are concerned your fitness levels are flagging, you’re not getting the best out of yourself or find motivation a problem - get expert help - all the most successful teams do.
All successful teams have players vying for the starting XI.
All mangers yearn for a fully fit team with no injury concerns.
I can hear Roy Hodgson the England Manager steadying himself for the question
“Roy: any selection headaches ahead of the Italy game?
“No, everyone is fit and available for selection – it’s a nice headache to have”
Your content marketing should be a well-oiled cog with great legal content just itching to get the chance to shine. A nice headache to have.
But, if you do not operate with an editorial calendar your attempts to succeed will be a bit hit and miss.
We Didn’t Leave Anything on the Pitch – We Gave It Everything
Law firms have been guilty in the past (surely not anymore?) of spending too much time “in” their law firms than actually spending time “on” their law firms.
We may have winged the odd newsletter to clients and referrers, but consistency was non-existent.
One month’s success was followed up by a succession of losses.
Another cardinal sin or red card is not to have done everything in your power to win the game and achieve your goals.
Don’t rely on a penalty shoot.
Win in the permitted time with great unstoppable legal content.
Give it everything you’ve got!
A Straight Red Card
No excuses for your law firm if guilty of any of the above.
The ease of keeping in touch with existing clients and reaching out to potential clients has never been easier or quicker.
I’m a strict disciplinarian on this one: It’s a straight red!
Getting Your Hands on the World Cup.
Many take part but only a few can succeed and get their hands on the World Cup.
Yet, World Cup glory is available to all those law firms who embrace content marketing and turn their law firms in to great resources of information and knowledge for their clients and potential clients.
Happy, happy clients. Successful Law Firm.
The Open Top Bus Ride
And so the ultimate accolade for every player and squad and back-room staff awaits: the open top bus ride through the streets of your town or city.
And you would’ve earned it.
But, no time to wallow in all the warmth of the glory.
Your next campaign in time for the 2018 World Cup starts in July.
Photo: My football hero Paul Gascoigne at Italia90
Content has evolved and doesn’t just involve blogging anymore.
Now, as lawyers, we are only truly harnessed by our own imagination or rather lack of it.
Great legal content is breaking past new frontiers with slideshare, infographics, video and hubs.
Slideshare for Law Firms
What about a visual, easy to understand presentation using plain English with everything you need to know.
I think Slideshare offers great opportunities for law firms.
Slideshare allows for those boring shackles to be released (from the vertiginous mounds of paper with which we are duty bound to suffocate our clients) in favour of something much more engaging.
We’ve done it recently to liberate our compulsory complaints documentation.
There is, of course, a serious message here but the essence is working together with common goals with the minimum of fuss and greater peace of mind to give a greater opportunity for an enhanced client experience.
Infographics for Law Firms
BBC online asked me a couple of weeks ago to come up with an Infographic to explain the still confused state of Chancel Repair Liability.
I enjoyed the challenge: the result a Snakes and Ladders board game.
If you would like to download the full PDF version you can here.
And the benefit?: my second best recorded day for visitors to the Clutton Cox website.
By the way, my best day was on the evening the One Show did a piece on Chancel Repair Liability.
Law Firm Video
Video has been around for a while and quite a few law firms have had a go on YouTube.
We have our own YouTube channel on which we have been repurposing our existing content. Mainly, by reading chapters from my book on Conveyancing.
The tangential nature of internet browsing means that you legal content can show up by many diverse means. The more varied your legal content the more chance it will be found and in turn shared with others.
Law Firm Content Hubs
If you’ve got it –flaunt it!: great legal content that is.
Limitations of home pages on law firm websites often mean only a glimpse of your great legal content is available to view instantly.
There are software packages which make your legal content much more engaging and keep existing and potential clients interested for longer.
On our Clutton Cox Hub once you open the page you can keep scrolling down and all our wonderful content just keeps on rolling – interspersed with the obligatory calls to action of course.
You can even use the software to create flipbooks of ebooks as below
And One More Important Thing
The beauty of all of the above is that if your law firm content is worthy enough it becomes sharable and your law firm becomes less in thrall to that precocious 6 year old known as Google.
Sharing is the future.
Let's begin with a glimpse in to the future ABS landscape for small law firms.
Here is a sneak preview from the opening chapter of my unforthcoming book entitled "Conveyancing Firms: 24 Hours from Tulisa?"
‘Two Tick’ Tulisa, an 18 year old, highly experienced one-to-one, customer-facing conveyancing coordinator with Inter Galactic Estate Agents.com (and author of ‘How to Successfully Tick Your Way Through the Conveyancing Process and Wave Goodbye to Common Sense’) was delighted. The enthusiastic Tulisa, acting upon a hot lead from her punter procurement department, had persuaded first time buyers Mr Poor and Miss Unfortunate (not their real names) to use the conveyancing services provided by their sister company and fledgling ABS Your-Call-is-Important-To-Us.com. Tulisa had shown Mr Poor and Miss Unfortunate the light: their appointed conveyancers were the future of conveyancing.
The ‘future’, as most conveyancing solicitors already know, has been here for some years.
As a conveyancing solicitor for over 30 years, I have dealt with many challenges and threats from the loosening of advertising restrictions in the early 1980s, licensed conveyancers, through to estate agents via HIP providers and panels managers and lenders.
I am resigned to the fact that the past may have only just finished and the future is about to begin all over again.
Everybody’s at it: Even a Bloke with Lorries
The AA and SAGA have been the latest to join to the inexorable rise of big brands achieving ABS status. Even a bloke more famous for his lorries is at it.
Conveyancing competition is getting hotter and this raises important questions about the future for small conveyancing firms and competition.
Will small conveyancing firms (punch-drunk from unfair financial competition and over-bearing compliance and regulation) be relegated to mere spectators as the big conveyancing firms stand toe-to-toe trading blows with ABSs in their bid to reach the next level of critical mass?
Does this mean that the only aspiration for which small conveyancing firms can now strive will be a billing on the undercard of the main boxing match?
Can small conveyancing firms be clever and punch above their weight in the brave new ABS landscape?
The internet has changed client behaviour for good
Put yourself in the shoes or the mindset of a potential client looking to instruct a conveyancing firm.
What would you do; would you ring straight away for a quote?
I would ask around.
My experience is that, increasingly, clients now use the internet to ‘ask around’, to get information about conveyancing services in advance of contacting a law firm – even when the firm has been recommended or, perhaps more importantly, when the conveyancers have been referred.
Leave the paranoia behind
Legal services, including conveyancing, may just be next in line to the technology disruption that every business has been at risk from, as well as the risk of other companies using innovative ways of delivering old services and products. Napoleon Hill commented in his book, Think and Grow Rich: Your Key to Financial Wealth and Power, that ‘of all the ages of civilisation, this is the most favourable for the development of the imagination, because it is an age of rapid change’.1 Napoleon’s book was written in 1937.
‘Online’ will be the new high street
Smaller law firms without a viable internet strategy will find it increasingly difficult to survive and thrive.
‘Online’ will become the new ‘high street’.
Potential clients are looking for more depth and a more detailed understanding of the conveyancing process, what it entails, what to look out for, and any tips and advice before making key decisions and this can all be found online. To put it another way, clients and potential clients want great legal content to answer their questions and allay their fears or problems.
Promotion of your great legal content is your challenge and the best method is through Social Media.
Social Media is the kindling and bellows to ignite and fan your law firm content fire
Great Legal Content Clients Crave
Clients can ask questions, they can read reviews, digest content (in the form of articles and blogs), start conversations online with people they have never met – and they want to do this when it suits them, at any time of the day or night and weekends.
Law firms who have a static brochure website ( nice graphics and photos ‘though) but no blog would do well to heed another of Napoleon Hill's golden nuggets:
Do not wait – the time will never be ‘just right’. Start where you stand, and better tools will be found along the way
Testimonials can help with law firm differentiation. When was the last time you made a purchase on Amazon without reading at least one review? Law firms, more than ever, need to be able to differentiate from their competitors. However, in my experience, so few law firms bother to include testimonials on their websites or in their marketing.
Google loves testimonials
Google loves testimonials as it sees it as proof positive that a particular company should be given more prominence in search results. It is not easy, as clients are not comfortable with the concept, but asking clients to put a testimonial against your law firm directly into Google would be a great way for instant proof without navigating around your law firm website. Better still, post testimonials on specific profiles around the web (for example, Google+ Local Pages (formerly Google Places) is becoming increasingly influential). Stars next to your website on Google can also add to the social proof potential clients may seek.
Castles and moats
Renowned business magnate and investor Warren Buffet has likened good businesses with ‘castles and moats’. Buffet once said: ‘I look for economic castles protected by unbreachable moats’. An ‘economic castle’ is a great business, and the ‘unbreachable moat’ is the strategy or market dynamic that heightens the barriers-to-entry and makes it difficult or ideally impossible to compete with, or gain access to, the economic castle.
In the internet age, the challenge for law firms and their websites will be how to fend off other law firms and ABSs from gaining traction in their local, regional, or national markets. If you visualise your law firm as a castle comprising your people, your law firm brand, intellectual capital, and your existing clients, your law firm moat will comprise search engine optimisation (key words and phrases strategy), social media, and internet marketing techniques.
Improve potential clients’ buying experience: Help them buy your services
Great content powers up a law firm’s online presence and attracts more potential clients. Used strategically, online content can help defend your law firm ‘castle’.
Content is too precious to be farmed out to third party suppliers.
Find the time for it as it will repay dividends in the end.
It would be useful to remember also that many enquirers are more likely to click on an entry with a photo rather than just text. The overall goal is to retain and acquire clients by attracting and educating them with great content.
Think about it. Would a potential client prefer to use a law firm which provides enough high quality content to answer all their questions? Would the fact that such helpful content was available from you, and not from other law firms, not make you the obvious safe and trustworthy choice for conveyancing?
And what about fees?
So few law firms are bold enough to put their fees out in the open for all to see
Many firms may have misguided worries that it is only other law firms who check the fees and would offer £5 less to win the client.
Others perhaps petrified of offending their Conveyancing Panel Managers.
Is an email request really making it easy for a potential client to get what they want?
An online conveyancing calculator surely is a must? I’ve just updated our Conveyancing Calculator at Clutton Cox.
The whole idea is to start a conversation and begin a relationship.
Client experience audit
A law firm needs to audit every single step of its business processes. You should revisit every single interaction with your clients, and potential clients, and discover how to make the client experience better.
Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, has an ‘empty chair’ at every meeting with his key staff. The ‘empty chair’ is reserved for their customer so the whole focus of their meetings can concentrate on how the experience of the customer in the empty chair can be improved.
Do as athletes do: Get the best coaches you can afford
To achieve gold and compete with the best takes commitment and hard work. Who can forget Bradley Wiggins last year and Chris Froome this year, both with the help and guidance of their performance director Dave Brailsford and his theory of incremental process improvements (of 1 per cent initially).
Luke Donald, last year’s world’s number one golfer, enlisted the help of Jonny Wilkinson's kicking coach Dave Alred to help with the dynamics of his swing. Luke Donald was the world's number 29 at the time. Ernie Els, the winner of the British Open in 2012, enlisted ‘eye doctor’, Dr Sherylle Calder, to help with the visualisation of his putting. He holed a long putt for a birdie on the 18th to effectively win the championship. It is also no coincidence that both Dave Alred and Sherylle Calder were part of the Clive Woodward's back room staff for England's victorious World Cup Rugby team in 2003.
Success is relative, so smaller firms will have different goals than being purely the ‘number one conveyancing firm in the country by volume or profit’, or whatever metric would satisfy. The important thing is that all firms can identify their goals and improve with outside coaching and technical help.
Brave New World– Same As The Old World
In spite of what still seems, to me, to be an opinion held by too many lawyers, the law is not a different business to which other rules apply.
Law is a people business.
Law firms exist because of the people – the clients they serve.
The way forward for law firms is to embrace the tools that the internet gives us, but at the same time to go back to the old fashioned values of client service which served previous generations so well.
Social media allows us to get closer to our clients, to engender the care and commitment of older generations who built their businesses on old fashioned virtues.
Social media is about humans and communication, and it takes time
Social Media allows us to get closer to our clients as our grandfathers and great grandfathers did with their businesses – on first name terms, knowing their likes and dislikes, and demonstrably showing that we care.
The butcher and the baker who knew all their customers’ backgrounds conversed in real time about what was going on in their lives and gave added value when it was most unexpected.
Law firms need to secure, as one of my own social media heroes Gary Vaynerchuk would say, the emotional equity of their clients.
Clients do not want mere lip service to a so-called ‘quality service’
Law firms, small or large, must make caring more scalable
Do not pass go: Care immensely about your clients or face failure
The cornerstones of what law firm businesses stood for in the past and what made them successful are probably more crucial in the ABS and digital age than ever before.
It is worth reiterating:
You need to care about your clients. Build your law firm ethos, and its brand around ‘out caring’ everyone else.
If you do not care about your clients immensely, your law firm will ultimately die out sooner or later.
Reaching out and listening to clients has never been easier than now in the digital age, and the traditional means of telephone or in-person contact have never, and will never, go out of fashion or relevance.
Client acquisition and retention
Client acquisition is important, but client retention is key. Firms can often pay too much heed to client acquisition. Many law firms have been pretty useless in keeping in touch with or clients. Yet, if we keep them happy and loyal it is possible to ring fence against the marauding ABSs.
Death by silent cuts
The danger for many small firms of conveyancing solicitors is that the phone may just abruptly stop. The opportunity to give a conveyancing quote may suddenly disappear. The conveyancing buying experience may have already taken place elsewhere – at the estate agent office, the bank, the Co-op till (so they say) or, increasingly, on the internet. If small law firms fail to adapt to the new shift in buying patterns then those firms risk a slow death by silent cuts.
And the good news
The good news, however, is that, for most firms, we still remain ahead of the game for now.
Darwin supposedly once said that it is not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change.
The conveyancing landscape may yet be dominated by ABSs and large conveyancing factories, but the internet is a great enabler for small law firms who are able to compete on a level playing field with the bigger law firms.
Innovative legal services can be quicker to market and can be viewed by a greater audience.
The internet is a true meritocracy where great content (and blogging is a great example) will attract a new audience for law firms.
Great content designed, as marketers would say, with your specific ‘client personas’ in mind is an important means of standing out – think context as well as content.
I have always use my own experience of blogging as reasons why solicitors should blog. Blogging is a wonderful marketing tool as part of an overall content strategy and those solicitors who embrace it can catapult their law firm into previously unchartered waters: more new clients as well as retention of existing clients and unpaid for referrals direct to your law firm website.
Small law firms can still choose to adapt and fight the challenge head on from the bigger conveyancing firms and ABSs, and they have their destiny in their own hands. It is, however, too risky a strategy to just rely upon your pool of existing clients and the fickleness of estate agents and conveyancing panels.
Any small conveyancing firm with the right strategy and commitment to improve and innovate need not fear the world of ABSs and Two Tick Tulisa’s employers.
Small law firms must be prepared to turn their law firms into media outlets for great legal content.
And above all else must ‘out care’ the Co-op, Saga, AA and that bloke with the lorries.
Gum Shield: Gloves:Seconds Out: Ding Ding
Bring It On
A version of this post provides a Chapter in the Solicitors Journal publication “Residential Property Practice: An Expert Guide” priced £39.95
This article first appeared in Solicitors Journal but without my title and ending
Small law firms are doomed. And it’s not much rosier for medium size law firms either!
No need for 20-20 hindsight by 2020 small law firms will be toast. End of!
How do I know? - As Freddie and the Dreamers sang – “Everybody Tells Me So”.
And not just Richard Susskind telling me so.
Legal Services as a Cottage Industry
Let’s take Susskind’s view that “we should dispose of what is largely a cottage industry, in order to satisfy clients' needs, and reinvent the way that legal services are delivered"
The Internet, that nasty gobbler-up of all things High Street, will do for us small law firms.
Most people will, as Susskind predicts, turn to online legal services for basic guidance on procedural and substantive issues of law.
But here is the thing the Internet is itself actually cottage industry writ large.
Everyone is invited to play (small law firms included) but the big boys (Google et al) get to choose whom you get to meet.
The Internet: A great Opportunity for Small Law Firms
New tools previously unavailable make the Internet the new frontier for keeping and attracting clients.
Social Media was too new a concept for Susskind in his first book - not even a twinkle in his disintermediative eyes.
But its affect on how law firms can engage and stay engaged with existing clients and potential clients gives opportunities for small law firms to excel and grow bigger.
“Meet the New Boss Same As The Old Boss”
Small law firms exist and continue to exist because of the people, their clients, they serve.
Law firms should embrace the tools that the internet gives us, but to go back to old fashioned values of client service which served previous generations so well.
Social media allows us to get closer to our clients; to engender the care and commitment of older generations who built their businesses on old fashioned virtues.
The butcher, the baker who knew all their customers backgrounds, conversed in real time about what was going on in their lives and gave added value when it was most unexpected viz. why a Baker’s dozen would equal 13.
Law firms, small or bigger, must make caring more scalable.
Let’s face it with the ubiquity of social media you should be able in most cases to find out much about what makes your clients tick and dovetail your services accordingly.
Banish Thoughts of Commoditisation
Commoditisation is a race to the bottom.
Provide your clients with a better understanding of how the law affects their lives at particular moments. How they can have successful outcomes.
Provide great content in an easily understood and jargon free way.
You need to set your law firm apart.
So Are Small Law Firms Doomed?
Success like failure is purely optional.
The internet is a true meritocracy, where great content will attract a new audience for law firms.
By utilising the internet your great content can flourish and innovation and differentiation can reach a wider audience. Innovative legal services will be quicker to market.
Social Media will enable stronger relationships to be forged with existing clients and lure new clients to your law firm
But, and it is a big but, the time to act for law firms is now, heed Susskind’s exhortations to have a long hard look at your law firm.
But as for me, beam me back on board, Scottie!
Lists: I love them.
I had fun compiling New Years Resolutions for Law Firms last year and am thrilled to do so again for 2014.
Personal recommendation for lawyers and word of mouth reputation are still the cornerstone for successful law firms. But, increasingly clients and potential clients are inexorably moving towards the internet where they can get a flavour and judge for themselves the “cut of our legal jibs”
I kid you not: algorithms are already determining the percentage chances of successful litigation, yet the flat-earth branch of the profession still denies the internet is having an effect or will have an effect on their law firms. So good luck with that one.
There has been a splurge of new lawyers and law firms with an internet and social media presence. Inbound marketing continues to grow rapidly but inbound marketing for law firms is still nascent.
Social Media for lawyers is no longer a minority past time, as more and more lawyers dip their toes in – although to be fair some less subtle law firms are stomping around with hobnail boots on.
As I exalt in the freedom of by-gone worries of splitting my infinitives, let me be one of the first lawyers, to boldly go on a trek through the internet marketing and social media universe, and give you my list of self proclaimed aphorisms, pointers and tips sprinkled a few bon mots and links to people I enjoyed connecting with in 2013.
The following legal musings are in a handy bite-sized chunk format.
Law Firm Management
- Get closer to your clients. It’s not new but unless you care immensely more for your clients your competitor law firms and ABSs will do it for you.
- Audit the whole experience of working with your law firm through the eyes of your clients. Yes, we can all improve
- Banish the “C” word – Commoditisation. It’s a sackable offence in my law firm.
- Avoid the race to the bottom on legal fees especially Conveyancing.
- Learn more about the art and science of Pricing your Law Firm services
- Sign up and follow the advice of Richard Burcher at Validatum or Kim Tasso on pricing for professionals
- Write a “Thank You “ note to each week to a client or contact who won’t be expecting it
- Promise yourself you will cure your law firm myopia by working more “on” your business rather than just in “it”
- Demote the excuse “I am too busy” to market my firm: work smarter and/or put your fees up
- Give all your staff company encrusted road haulage trucks like Eddie Stobart does.
- Exceed expectation – get on board for destination Wow
- Sign up for Joe Reevy’s newsletter. Gems and Golden Nuggets of common sense advice guaranteed
- Read my blog: Circle the Wagons and Come Out All Guns Blazing
- Hit the Road, Jack – speak and visit other law firms, talk learn, and share: protect our solicitor brand. I’ve travelled to meet some great solicitors this year to “chew the legal cud”
- Reduce reliance on third party paid referrals
- Read my blog: Match Point: What More Could Your Law Firm Achieve?
- Remember client retention is much cheaper than client acquisition
Internet and Inbound Marketing for Law Firms
- No one really cares about your law firm website – get over it
- Mens sana in corpore sano - a fit mind in a fit body..and that includes working out personally and with and on your law firm website
- Invest in marketing technology such as Hubspot to help run your firm effortlessly 24/7/365
- Talk to me about Hubspot – I’m evangelical
- Repeat the mantra “My law firm will get found online and we will convert leads into clients”
- I said repeat it
- Start an E-Newsletter or improve on an existing newsletter.
- Evaluate your own law firm website with fresh eyes: overhaul the home page at the very least if it doesn’t cut the mustard
- Consumers complete 60% of their buying decisions before talking to a sales rep – work out how that will impact your online law firm strategy
- Read my blog: Get the Love –Inbound Marketing is the Future
- Sign up with Boyd Butler at Great Legal Marketing and learn to think differently.
- Read my blog: Are You Investing in Chinese Fishing Nets?
- Get proof of how good you are – get testimonials from satisfied clients and keep asking those clients to refer new work to your firm
- Marketing your law firm is an endless tour – don’t let yourselves be bowled out in 31.4 overs like the England Cricket team in the last Test Match in Australia:concentrate and be bold.
Blogging for Lawyers
- Look to build a blog not launch one
- Work out an antidote for any “Lexblogophobia” in your firm.
- Find a blogging champion within your firm but never force anyone –it will show.
- Make it easier for potential clients to discover what you’re bloody at –create great content
- Increase your blogging and content output by 50% over the next twelve months
- Write 2 blogs a week for your website –that will increase your law firm website by 100 over a year. Powerful
- Start your blog editorial now and round of the year with your first eBook
- Make sure you write that eBook (If you have a 100 new blogs next year that should more than cover it!)
- Sign up and follow the blog of Irish Solicitor Flor McCarthy from Clonakilty County Cork – and be enchanted.
- Find your niche Create great legal content and become “the go-to lawyer or firm” like I have done with Chancel Repair Liability
- Never post a blog without a thumbnail image and an alt tag. Images add power.
- Mix and Match your blog article lengths and be sure to do an in depth blog at least once a month. Google likes in depth content - it’s official
- Sign up to the Solicitors Online Success blog below and never miss an article again
- Your law firm is now a media publishing business embrace it and excel.
- Educate your clients and help them learn about the legal process as it affects them
- Ask your staff to name the 10 most common questions asked daily and create your first 10 blogs or another 10 blogs if you’re already up and running.
- Learn to multi-task and think, write and construct blogs – Watch Monday Night Football and Blog; Watch Rugby and Blog; Watch Breaking Bad and on second thoughts..
Content Marketing for Law Firms
- Cut the Crap (1) avoid bombastic, turgid and orotund blog posts and content
- Cut the Crap (2) No more inane tweets informing the Twittersphere that you are available for a quote for conveyancing, a divorce or a Will. Yuk!
- Download Crap: The Content Marketing Deluge by Velocity Partners and follow @dougkessler its creative director to see what fantastic content looks like –be inspired
- Veni Vidi Video –especially the last one and don’t be so precious and eschew the library books at the back
- Don’t fear your law firm’s content management system – learn a bit of code and feel more in control.
- Ensure every page of your law firm website has a sufficient Call to Action – or stand on the naughty step
- Make your content shareable and sociable, allow people to easily follow you and share your content
Social Media for Solicitors and Lawyers
- Treasure your invite to the world’s largest cocktail party that is Twitter
- Understand that Twitter is primarily a listening medium
- Read the “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook” by Gary Vaynerchuk and learn how to tell your story in a noisy social world.
- Consider other social media not just the usual suspects such as Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr and Slideshare and Prezzi and Uberflip could help your practice but:
- Don’t try and do every “social media” stick to what you think will work best
- Perfect your blogging style over time – don’t rush ( please don’t hold any of my original blogs back in 2008 against me)
- Exit a group on LinkedIn which no longer inspires you
- Join a new group on LinkedIn which may inspire you and join in the discussions
SEO for Law Firms
- Don’t get fixated and hung up with SEO, but do concentrate on creating great content. You’re writing for humans not robots!
- Think twice and then thrice again before instructing a so called SEO expert sign up to Moz to find out what SEO is really all about.
Law Firms and Google+
- Google+ will grow in importance and influence search results. Google+ is here for the long haul
- Inhabit Google+ and work out how it can benefit your clients and staff
- Claim your content with Google Authorship markup and if you are lucky Google will post your photo next to your blog like here
Which, if any, Were Advertising Slogans Used by Alternative Business Structures in 2013?
- Feeling Flat?: Let Our Legal Team Put the Wind Back In Your Tyres
- It’s not just car breakdowns we cover but also marital breakdowns.
- Free Marital Breakdown Cover When You Sign Up for Roadside Breakdown Cover
- Free Roadside Breakdown Cover When You Sign Up To Marital Breakdown Cover
- Your tyres may have let you down but our legal services team won’t
- Wills While You Wait………. For Our Van To Arrive
- Injured in a car accident in the last three years? ( That one may have been overplayed a bit now, admittedly)
- We’d like you to turn all your legal problems into a Saga
- We can’t run a Bank but boy oh boy do we know how to run a law firm
- The highways jammed with broken heroes on a last chance power drive - but not our Truck Stop Lawyers, Eh Eddie?
Extract from my Unforthcoming Book on Conveyancing
‘Two Tick’ Tulisa, an 18 year old, highly experienced one-to-one, customer-facing conveyancing coordinator with Inter Galactic Estate Agents.com (and author of ‘How to Successfully Tick Your Way Through the Conveyancing Process and Wave Goodbye to Common Sense’) was delighted.
The enthusiastic Tulisa, acting upon a hot lead from her punter procurement department, had persuaded first time buyers Mr Poor and Miss Unfortunate (not their real names) to use the conveyancing services provided by their sister company and fledgling ABS Your-Call-is-Important-To-Us.com.
For you see, Tulisa had shown Mr Poor and Miss Unfortunate the light: their appointed lawyers were the future of conveyancing.
- So you’re in a lift/elevator- tell me what you do in 29.9 seconds or thereabouts
- Only talk to passionate and enthusiastic people in said lifts/elevators
- Avoid temptation to utter whilst in said lift/elevator “I’m ready to take this baby to the next level are you?”
- Shun Mr. Mrs and Ms Negative and all their family and relatives and all their close personal friends
- Look forward ( if rumours are to be believed) to joyous wincing at Saul Goodman the outrageously corrupt, ghastly and appalling attorney from Breaking Bad in his new eponymous series
- Have an inflatable “scales of justice” proudly above your office – only joking –see above
- Avoid TV adverts for your law firm – and I’m not just talking about Call Saul
- Create your own three word aphorism for ABS – never harms to amuse oneself
Above all else avoid complacency in your law firms.
“Be bloody bold and resolute; laugh to scorn
the power of man, for none of woman born shall harm Macbeth”
After all it’s what did for poor old Macbeth in the end.
A Happy, Content Enriched and Wonderfully Prosperous New Year to you.
An erratum published in a magazine many years ago continues to amuse me. It read:
“In my previous article on the Milk Marketing Board, please replace the word “horse” with “cow” throughout”
Mind boggling aside, I feel a bit like that now.
Coaxing, cajoling and nagging law firms to raise their profile through blogging was my mission.
But I see now that all my previous articles on blogging for law firms should have been more expansive.
Replace law firm blogging with content marketing for law firms. Throughout.
Law Firm Blogging: Dirty Words
Blogging in law firms has never really gained the traction in England and Wales it should have done. Many solicitors have mentioned to me that they simply don’t like the word blogging.
Many feel that the word blogging is a stripped down version of what defines them as lawyers, namely, writing and advising clients about the law. It’s demeaning to many solicitors.
I’ve never been one to stand on such ceremony. Call it what you will, I say.
Write articles or publish information, answer questions or give help with common legal problems. Just so long as you do it.
Content Marketing for Law Firms
You should consider turning your law firm and in particular your law firm website in to a valuable source of content. Think and act like a publisher.
And as you publish valuable content you can unshackle yourself from the weight of blogging by focusing on content in general.
You can use valuable content to “pull” clients and potential clients to your website.
Although the concept is not new and has been around in different incarnations, you’ll be hearing a lot about content marketing for law firms as I see it as one of the new buzzwords for 2014 and beyond.
What Does Content Marketing for Law Firms Involve?
Joe Pullizi in his new book Epic Content Marketing defines content marketing as:
“The marketing and business process for creating and distributing valuable and compelling content to attract acquire and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience –with the objective of driving profitable customer action”
The last sentence is most important and sets content marketing from just content.
In, a law firm context, content marketing must embrace a firm- wide process of developing and sharing valuable and engaging content, with the goal of, not only, acquiring new clients, but also, retaining existing clients and increasing business from your existing clients.
Emphasis must be on targeting. You must have a good idea at whom your valuable content is targeted.
Not so much a problem for smaller firms more challenging for bigger law firms.
Liberate Yourself from the Tyranny of Law Firm Blogging
Don’t be put off or feel constrained by the tyranny of just blogging as the only way to retain and attract clients in your inbound marketing strategy.
If you think like a publisher of valuable legal content you can soar higher.
In content marketing, your website enables you to create many different types of valuable content.
As a law firm you can publish on your website
And once you have created your valuable content you can then PROMOTE it through social media, e-mail marketing and other channels both online and offline.
And of course, if your content is considered valuable, it will be shared by existing clients and potential clients alike.
Social Media First, Content Marketing Second, Right?
There are so many more law firms now engaged in social media than a couple of years ago.
Yet, I see so many law firms getting it so badly wrong. Bulls in social media china shops.
Why should I ring you for a quote on Conveyancing when you have no original or compelling content on your law firm website to convince me you are the firm I should instruct.
Get your content strategy in place before muscling in on Twitter et al.
Content Marketing Strategy first – social media strategy second.
What Are You Waiting For?
So there you are, dear reader, I have hopefully freed you from worrying about just one medium. You can now get everyone in the firm enthused by all the media.
Set your law firm up to be renowned for great and remarkable legal content.
Get the attention of your clients and targeted potential clients and stop them in their tracks.
Make clients and targeted potential clients think about you in a new and different way.
I was lucky enough to attend the Inbound Marketing UK 2013 Conference in London last week.
The speakers ranged from a headlining Brian Halligan the CEO of Hubspot and the author of the term “inbound marketing” though to the captivating and entertaining Carrie Longton co founder of Mumsnet
For me the speaker with the most resonance for law firms and their content marketing was Doug Kessler of Velocity Partners who talked a lot of crap – or to be precise “Content Marketing in the Age of Crap.
Now, dear loyal reader that got me thinking about the current state of online content amongst firms of Solicitors.
In short, in my humble opinion, there is a lot of crap content being produced on law firm websites.
You need to avoid falling into the crap legal content trap.
Content is King of Law Firm Websites
My fervent belief is in law firms creating great content for their law firm websites.
My evangelical conviction is that law firms should turn themselves into educational treasure troves for clients and potential clients to discover initial answers to questions and possible solutions to their problems.
Client relationships in this Digital Age will be enhanced and new relationships started from the powerful content of your law firm website.
And crucially such content should be home- grown, in-house and organic.
But, Every Bugger’s At It
Yet, chances are you have not yet produced much if any of your own content on your law firm website.
You will have been offered - All for a pretty penny - website content by every Tom Dick and Harriet from SEO agencies (don’t get me started); Social Media agencies; Website Designers and Marketing Agencies.
And you can throw into the mix reincarnated copywriting agencies, video production companies and contract publishers who miraculously have transmogrified into content farms, rich content creators and content marketing experts.
And here is the danger: more content the more likelihood of pong.
Below par, average, mundane (and my pet hate of lawyer content) the turgid bombastic and orotund content is appearing on law firm websites so much so that it risks diluting the power of great content as a marketing tool to attract and satisfy existing and potential clients.
Generating Great Content for Your Law Firm
You know me well enough to protect you against such a ghastly outcome.
It is in your hands –literally.
You are the best placed and most qualified to provide great legal content which answers questions, guides with problems, helps clients be entertained as well as better informed, and which clients and potential clients ache to share with friends family and colleagues.
In short, your goal should be to elevate your firm into one of the great law firm content brands.
What You Need to be a Great Legal Content Brand
Great because you reach for the stars and seek to rise above the morass of general law firm output.
Great Law Firm Content because your goal is to be bigger and better regarded for your content than your competitors.
Great Law Firm Content Brand because you are able to deliver on your promise of great law firm content and the best brands always deliver on their promises.
Aspire to those goals and ensure your law firm will be famous for producing thought-provoking, pragmatic and entertaining content that your clients and potential clients will always be willing to devour with gusto.
And for many years to come thereafter, your great law firm content has the power to be your gift which keeps on giving.
5 Principals of Great Law Firm Content
Here is my take on what you will need to produce great law firm content:
1. See From Your Clients’ Eyes: Become Your Client
Write as you would wish to be informed.
Ask your self the questions that clients are always asking you.
How can you make your clients more successful, meet their concerns and guide with their problems.
2. Say It As It Is
Your goal will be to answer your clients and potential clients’ needs and worries before they ask the question. Be there for them in a way which breeds warmth and authority.
3. Say it Now and Often
Don’t hang around thinking about it- just get on with it. The more you reach out with your great law firm content the more likely you will be appreciated by your existing clients and discovered by new potential clients.
You will improve over time. Guaranteed.
4. Put In Your Heart and Soul
Passion is tangible - You can’t fake it. If you are disinterested or disengaged you will not create great legal content.
Stamp your personality on everything you do and avoid the same old or perceived style of academic legal writing.
If you don’t care passionately about making a difference it will show in your legal content.
If you are not up for it, don’t beat yourself up about: move aside and find someone in your firm who has the passion and desire.
5. Be bloody hard on yourself – or get a coach
Great legal content is hard work. “Slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” are bound to get in the way of your best intentions.
If you are self-motivated then that’s fine, but seek help if that will achieve your goals more readily.
Think Mo Farah getting up at the crack of dawn in the bleakest winter to put in his 130 training miles a week. It helps that his coach is beside him to guide him, to cajole him and to praise him when the session is completed.
The Return on Investment of Great Law Firm Content
Great Law Firm Content gets shared.
Your greatest content gets shared by many.
And those people who have be given your great content will share it with their friends in one great big exponential love-in.
And when great legal content gets shared it will lessen your reliance on the search engines and paradoxically be better appreciated by the search engines.
Your Law Firm Brand In the Spotlight
The greatest result will be the spotlight, hitherto unilluminated, which lights up all your legal services to adoring clients and potential clients alike.
And the best news of all is that you can let other law firms worry about the “pong” emanating from their websites.
Fixed fees and clarity in tomorrow’s legal services is a guest post by Tom Hiskey, former probate solicitor and co founder of fast-growing legal technology company The Law Wizard. The Law Wizard supplies the clever technology behind Clutton Cox's fixed price probate service.
I often run guest posts over on my Clutton Cox website ( extraordinarily it would appear whenever I am on holiday) and I am grateful to Tom for contributing this post.
Tom has a couple of predictions about the future of legal services –over to you Tom.
Prediction 1: in the next few years, all but the most complex non-contentious matters will be charged by fixed fee
No solicitor costs files by weight any more (or do they?). The way in which matters are charged is changing fast. In probate the move towards fixed fees is inexorable. It must be this way, if for no other reason that consumers prefer fixed fees above all other charging methods by some distance.
According to one recent survey, fixed fee is now the most common charging method for probate.
It should come as no surprise then that the vast majority of law firms we have spoken to already offer one fixed fee probate package, and sometimes more than one. Typically, this is a fixed fee grant extraction service, usually around £350 – £700 + VAT, with £500 + VAT perhaps most common.
At least one firm we know of is already moving towards offering all non-contentious probate work on a fixed fee.
These law firms tell us that the demand for fixed fees started around 10 years ago and, today, requests for fixed fees are commonplace. This is reflected in client satisfaction rates, with 87% of consumers satisfied with fixed fee services, compared to 73% for services charged by hourly rate (down from 79% in 2012).
This 10-year shift mirrors the rise in internet users. 6 years ago (let alone 10), there were just half the internet users in the UK there are today. In 2013, 33 million of us use the internet daily. The Web has empowered consumers, who are now, as a whole, informed, educated and expect more for less.
There are growing pains. With the above fixed fee grant extraction services, the law firm typically hands some form of questionnaire to the client, or the client simply hands a completed spreadsheet or IHT205 to the solicitor. It can be a clunky, inefficient process.
The challenge of attaching fixed fees to estate administration (as opposed to grant extraction) should not be underestimated, and the same goes for many other areas of law. It requires experience, technology, processes and analysis of metrics – things that are not yet in place for the vast majority of law firms.
Progress is also hindered by misunderstandings about fixed fees: one firm we spoke to considered a fixed percentage rate to be a fixed fee.
Prediction 2: prices and service levels will be clear, transparent and capable of comparison
Law firms may be some years away from a fixed fee panacea, but try telling that to probate providers such as Co-op Legal Services, Kings Court Trust, ITC and others. They are pushing hard towards fixed fees. These specialist probate providers also tend the lead the way (some more successfully than others) on the other side of the fixed fee coin: pricing, service levels and branding which are clear, transparent and capable of comparison.
For law firms, as with these volume providers, it is a bumpy road. One firm left me scratching my head recently when they declined to tell me what they charge for their fixed fee grant extraction service, explaining that they do not tell clients their fixed fee prices over the telephone or online. These are only revealed once a client has made an appointment and is at the office. Even Co-op is notoriously coy about its fixed fee pricing structure, with no hint of costs on its website.
This may or may not be adequate for the time being, but the market is changing. Co-op intercept clients at the funeral stage, referring probate work to their legal services team. Volume provider Kings Court Trust recently received £4m VC investment. They are not alone in targeting a greater share of the probate market.
The rise of volume providers is of greater concern for law firms than mere fixed fees, and that is true not only for probate. Nevertheless, the reality is that if law firms wish to compete, they will have to do more.
Quality Solicitors hope to do just that. Though unable at present to guarantee fixed fees, their promises, including no hidden costs and Saturday openings, point towards transparent service levels. With increasingly clear and consistent messaging and branding, plus TV ads, they recognise that consumers are increasingly shopping around (even if they still do so for legal services somewhat less than they would for other services).
This trend will continue, supported by the fact that 18-34 year-olds are now more likely to find their legal service provider online than by any other means. In terms of probate, this may not be the demographic of the typical client, but it is indicative of a permanent shift. Tomorrow’s consumers of probate services will increasingly find their providers online, comparing costs and service levels as they would for car insurance and credit cards.
Unclear pricing is at odds with this future. It is even at odds with the present. All our clients publish their fixed fee probate prices on their websites. Many other law firms publish one or more fixed fee prices.
The research, stats and results all point to one thing – consumers increasingly demand clear, fixed, up-front pricing, along with consistent, clear branding and service levels. However fantastic your law firm’s service and expertise, this will be of little comfort when the internet generation skips over your website in favour of something clearer, more transparent and more appealing.
For details of how The Law Wizard helps law firms to capture more of the DIY probate market, please visit our website, www.thelawwizard.com