This week on Hewlbenomics; lets talk about a relatively untouched niche. Recently applying for the Melbourne Accelerator Program, my team tried to create a solution for this problem, but found many difficulties in implementation. I’ll give you a picture of what we were trying to do next week but now I’ll try and explain the market and the opportunities in it as a whole.
This was my team’s logo for our, as of yet unsuccessful, business idea.
From the logo you can probably guess.. I’m talking about the legal services market.
Now there have been a few attempts at this, but basically none of them have received much traction either at the corporate / commercial end of the market or even much at the consumer end (where the idea is much more saleable as the man in the street has no idea who they should get as a lawyer when they need one so a marketplace with lawyer ratings an testimonials and fixed price standard documents etc. has more obvious appeal and there is a clear place for an intermediary).
See below for some relevant articles from a quick google search.
The problems at the commercial end of the market, even for medium size businesses, is that law firms are astute enough to see the dangers in being intermediated/ UBER-ised (and so it is hard sell to get them involved) and on the client side, legal work is a relationship business – it’s about who you trust. Businesses are reluctant to change lawyers for the same reason people are reluctant to change dentists when they find one they can live with (I find this idea ridiculous due to the expense it creates but it is a fact). It is a similar situation say for business loans, where brokers and other intermediaries haven’t gained much transaction compared to home mortgage brokers. It is hard for a business to break free from its bank.
One area that seems to be working much better is online agencies handling secondments. Essentially, there are lots of lawyers who want to work for themselves but don’t want to start their own firm or work full time. Similarly there are lots of legal departments (and smaller firms) looking to engage lawyers on a short term basis for specific projects, to fill absences (maternity leave, long service leave sabbaticals etc.). There are a lot of different models in this space, but the ones that seem to be getting traction are more along the lines of a virtual firm that are basically a bodyshop fronted by some credible lawyers. http://proximity.com.au/ is one example, but there are plenty of others.
Basically these firms can offer would be freelance lawyers the same or more than they are getting as a wage slave in a firm for working only part time and on a flexible assignment basis (e.g. pick up jobs for 8 months of the year and travel the other 4). At the same time they can offer clients a daily rate well below what normal firms can charge because they have low overheads (the lawyers work on site with clients, so they need no office space and as the lawyers are subcontracted freelancers, they don’t have to pay them if there no assignments for them). http://www.virtuallaw.eu/ is another. It is a bit harder to find these with a google search as it harder to work out a good search term, but there are at least 3 operating Canberra.
Another area that is a problem currently without a solution is a service aimed at legal departments for managing performance of external lawyers and the processes of managing placing work with panel firms.
Most lawyers hate doing performance management, but all legal departments know they need to justify their existence and be seen to managing costs effectively. Set up the right way so it doesn’t threaten either the legal department team or the external lawyers (so it would be more of a consultancy doing the dirty work but making the legal department was seen to be calling the shots by considering the services fact based assessments and recommendations) this would give you a lot of information about both skills and rates of law firm lawyers across a broad spectrum of firms and about how legal departments shoos lawyers and assign work. If your terms of service are written in a way that allows you to use data collected ‘for the purposes of provision of services” or other broad brush terms as used by Facebook and Google etc. this could be a springboard that could be used for other services.
Aside from what I’ve just mentioned there are far more potential gaps in the legal services market. With the amount of profit these firms bring in every year, it really is a industry that deserves some sort of disruption.
While I don’t expect the legal market to become UBER-ised anytime soon, technology will no doubt takes it’s foothold in this, much like any other market, soon.
Hope I gave some interesting information out.
I’ll be putting up some more information on drop shipping over the next few weeks – using http://www.hewlbern.com as my case analysis.
Google search for ‘law firm work bidding service’
Clients up for auction – Lawyers Weekly
May 20, 2015 – A new website allowing lawyers to bid for clients could change how firms offer … Firms could use this service to gain access to a previously untapped market, … to have law firms bid and compete for their work,” Mr Jasper said.
How Do Lawyer Bidding Sites Work? – eLawyering Blog
Nov 30, 2011 – Your service request is then posted or published to a lawyers who have registered for the service so they can bid on your work. When a lawyer …
the Advent of Reverse-Auction Lawyering – College of Law
Posted on October 13, 2015 at 7:30 am | legal practice … of recording a day’s work in six-minute increments is viewed by many lawyers as an … a platform through which lawyers could bid for the opportunity to provide legal services for clients.
Reverse Auctions Are Here to Stay for Law Firms – Strategist
Jun 2, 2015 – Reverse auctions continue to change the way small firms get work. … that a business would engage in competitive bidding for legal services.
Taking the stress out of tenders and proposals – Law Society …
This is especially true if your firm works with government, banks, insurers, listed … Before you put pen to paper, make sure you have properly sized up the bid … Tender turnaround times for legal services are becoming increasingly truncated.
Solicitors offer to work for free on new legal bidding site …
startupbeat.com › News
May 29, 2015 – It doesn’t cost lawyers to bid on a job – they only have to hand over an agreed … “The UK is crying out for a service like this,” says Lucy.
Lawyer’s new business bid: a bidding service for lawyers …
www.theglobeandmail.com › Report on Business › Small Business › Startups
Dec 2, 2011 – That’s what Jeff Fung found when he launched MyLawBid in July, an online service that allows lawyers to bid on legal work submitted by …
[DOC]OUTCOMES: professional and OTHER BUSINESS services
TPP countries have also agreed to work cooperatively to foster enhanced … Australian lawyers and law firms will benefit from the following commitments by TPP … be able to bid for government procurement contracts for legal services in Brunei …
Bid & Sales – Resources Group
7 Jobs – Senior Bids Executive – London – Top Law Firm £40,000 – £43,000 The … Pitch Jobs, Client Manager Jobs Professional Services, Marketing Jobs Legal, …
Innovating Professional Services: Transforming Value and …
Alastair Ross – 2016 – Business & Economics
This approach was successful in enabling the law firm to move the client’s … Now that is differentiation in practice. seek To exTend your servICe working at this … of firms, following a bidding process, which they will use to perform all this work.