Joshua Lenon from Clio hosted an insightful CLE on this topic last week called “Competing Successfully With Online Legal Forms.” It’s certainly worth the time to watch. He talked about how online legal forms, like those on Rocket Lawyer, allow you to easily create and modify state-specific legal forms to help make your practice more competitive.
(Full disclosure: I’m the Head of Attorney Services at Rocket Lawyer, but my points here are universal.)
Don’t Reinvent the Wheel
The third most common expression used by lawyers in the U.S. is “we don’t reinvent the wheel.” Okay, I made that stat up, but in law, that expression is more than a cliche. We have a strong base to build on. Once the foundation for any type of agreement has been built, we can all move on to what analysis is next instead of starting basics from scratch each time.
As a lawyer, adopting a “been there, done that” attitude frees up your time and mental energy to innovate and move things forward for your client. Isn’t that what we as lawyers want to do? Of course, “been there, done that” sounds more official when we call it a “precedent”, but it’s all the same thing.
That’s not to say that all legal services are repeatable, just parts. Each situation your client is in will be unique, and you can’t use the exact same wheel (err… excuse me… document) each time. Clients will all obviously have different family situations, different desires, and even be subject to different laws. Even if all those elements happen to be (by the grace of Dick Wolf) identical, then at the very least you’ll need to change the party’s names and dates.
Truck Wheels Don’t Fit on Bicycles
I have a 17-year-old Jeep Wrangler. I love it. I have a 3-year-old road bike. I don’t ride it enough. They both have wheels. The wheels are different. Not reinvented, just different.
As lawyers, we often repeat similar work over again (and again). Estate plans are a great example. There are some things that everyone might not need, but there are many core elements common to all estate plans. Automated online legal forms can generate all those basics, and let you spend your time tailoring the document to your clients’ situation. By adopting these new technologies you can offer more competitive rates and services than lawyers who haven’t entered the digital age – creating a win win for you and your clients.
Obviously, I wouldn’t put my road bike wheel on my Jeep. That’s not enough tire. Or vice versa. That’s too much. It would look funny and it wouldn’t get me very far. But heck, it would at least be a start either way.
The point being, when it comes to having a vehicle that’s going to get you from Point A to Point B, you don’t have to create a new one each time. It wastes too much time for you and too much time for your client. You just have to make sure the basic start you use is right or you’ll probably get run off the road.
It’s not a question of if, it’s a questions of when will you start using or being asked to use an online legal form.
It’s not secret that you’ll have to edit online legal forms—whether they’re your own or someone else’s. No matter how you look at it, you’re going to always have two main components in every agreement you draft: the parts that came before you, and the parts you add (that stat I did not make up).
So start getting more competitive by using online legal forms, and go back to being an advisor and problem solver—and not a scribe.
- 9 Tips for Drafting a Clear-Cut Contract (rocketlawyer.com)
- You’re Lawyers, Not Luddites: Why Attorneys Can’t Ignore Tech(rocketlawyer.com)
- 4 Ways to Add Oomph to Your Practice(rocketlawyer.com)