This got me thinking about our ongoing Law Factory vs. Bet the Farm discussion. It seems to me, that whether we choose Law Factory or Bet The Farm, we're still talking about a standard law firm competing for standard law firm customers in the same old way. We're just segmenting the market and focusing on our chosen segment. But what if we imagined a Blue Ocean Law Firm. One that ditched the conventional wisdom, and set out on a new path building the law firm from scratch. Our Blue Ocean firm wouldn't bill by the hour and it wouldn't incentivize the attorneys by encouraging long hours. Instead it would bill based on the work completed, in a clear itemized manner. It would drop the Partner / non-Partner tracks and court attorneys who were interested in making a very good salary while practicing their profession for 40+ hours a week and having a life outside of the firm, rather than working young associates to death with the promise of potentially making ungodly amounts of money in the future. And most importantly, the Blue Ocean firm would actively write their legal documents in English rather than legalese, and would strive to minimize the length of those documents whenever possible. Rather than making attorneys unnecessary, this would make them more approachable. While we're at it, let's reconsider the staid, stale, law office. Let's make it inviting and welcoming. Let's drop the hard wood, and marble, and introduce couches and carpeting. We'll cut the long list of Partner names in the firm name and go with a simple catchy name like Blue Ocean Legal. In short, let's get rid of everything that makes people hate attorneys and start providing services which are simply defined, easy to understand, and affordable.
That's the firm I would go to if I needed to create a will, set up a trust, or create a contract. That's the firm I would seek out to advise my small business. That's the firm and the attorneys that I would want to build a long-term relationship with. But before you write this off as just another vision for a discount law factory, everything I've described would be welcome to big businesses as well. Simple billing for work completed and services rendered; pleasant, happy, well-rounded attorneys who are not motivated by profit at my expense; and legal documents written in a language that I, as a non-attorney, can understand without hiring another attorney to translate them.
I'm not often called a naive optimist, though I suspect I may be after this post. Still, I would bet that a firm like I've described would be hugely profitable and would avoid the Red Ocean of the current legal services market.
We'll probably have to wait to find out until the law changes and I can own my own firm. In the meantime, maybe I'll go get my JD.