My wife and I were hiking up to Yosemite Falls recently. About half way to the top, between deep breaths, she managed to wipe the sweat off her forehead and get out an inadvertently profound question. She asked, “why is all the good stuff so hard to get to?” At the time I was thinking more about how lawyers will be practicing law in ten years than I was about the steep climb and direct sunlight so I thought the “good stuff” she was referring to was a successful law practice. I could quickly tell by her blank stare that apparently I was wrong. Oops. Sorry honey.
There is no science to successfully managing and marketing a firm. I like to believe that at one point in time practicing law was easier. Of course, these were the days when a lawyer actually used the books that were on her bookshelf and was ahead of the game if she had an ad in the local phonebook. The pace for business development and completing assignments was naturally slower and separated.
Today, practice management and marketing overlap. What do I mean by that? It’s simple. Whereas clients used to just call lawyers from their phone book listing and request a “do it for me” service, clients are increasingly going to the Internet for solutions to their everyday legal needs. Lawyers need to join them.
Many “do it yourself” web sites often suggest that lawyers are no longer necessary. That couldn’t be more wrong or dangerous. A pure “do it yourself” service is a good way to create a document, but more often than not clients are in need of ongoing counseling. Lawyers aren’t valued for simply putting together a legal form. They are there to guide their clients through difficult times. Sometimes that means being a document preparer, and sometimes that means being a trusted confidant. Either way, the lawyers must get more involved online.
We’re currently building tools at Rocket Lawyer that encourage collaboration between clients and lawyers online. Rocket Lawyer offers free online profiles for attorneys that provide a means for lawyers to manage their practice and market their firm – all at once. With a Rocket Lawyer profile an attorney can attract any of the millions of visitors who come to Rocket Lawyer every year for solutions to their legal needs as well as collaborate with a client online through their account’s very own file manager. Here, the lawyer can either review a document their client made on Rocket Lawyer, or, upload their own document and share it in a secure account. In that sense, Rocket Lawyer doesn’t provide your traditional “do it yourself” or “do it for me” service, it’s more of a “do it with me” service.
By connecting a client who has completed a legal agreement with a lawyer who is available to provide the client with continued counseling Rocket Lawyer makes sure that everyone is better off.
So what’s taking the legal community so long to engage with clients online? Lawyers can be so accustomed to following in the footprints of those who walked the path before them that it’s easy for them to forget that sometimes there’s an easier way to get to the good stuff. Heck, the last time I walked that path at Yosemite I completely forgot I was even walking it. In any event, lawyers need to understand that their clients want to work with them online and it’s time they join them there.
Matthew is a Sr. Product Marketer at RocketLawyer.com. He pulls from his experience practicing law in large and small firm settings to build the tools necessary for lawyers to grow their practice online. Matthew’s Rocket Lawyer Profile. Twitter: @kaufmanmj