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One of the most amazing things about living in the world today is having a wealth of information right at your fingertips. This can be annoying for many professionals, who more and more often are encountering clients who think their Google search can replace a professional degree. However, despite the frustrations that come with the rise in legal self-help forms, there are ways attorneys can use them to leverage new business.
For most people, their encounters with the legal system are on the civil side. Whether they are facing a divorce, eviction, or a business dispute, they need guidance – but there’s no guarantee they’ll have a lawyer. Without knowing the intricacies of the court system, a straightforward case can become a significant drain on a court’s time and resources.
However, many people have a hard time justifying the expense of a lawyer. In California, for example, people have been representing themselves at increasing rates ever since the recession. To combat this, many state court systems and even bar associations have begun offering legal self-help services. In addition to pro-bono consultations, one of the greatest assets in the self-help arsenal are forms. A quick internet search turns up thousands of results, and their availability has many lawyers concerned.
Since forms are unlikely to go away, many attorneys have an interest in finding ways to leverage them in their business. Rather than lamenting the change, they can instead use the existence of forms to gain new clients. For example:
Holding a workshop for potential clients where you explain when certain forms might be appropriate can help clients understand when they need a lawyer. Workshops are also an excellent opportunity to discuss what can go wrong when someone uses a generic form from online.
Even if someone does most of the work using a form, they might be willing to pay for the peace of mind that comes with having it reviewed by an attorney.
Some clients might be open to an arrangement where they can receive ongoing form review services. If they use a form contract in their business, for example, an attorney can give personalized advice for different scenarios and answer questions.
If someone is looking to save money, the advice that they should never use a form is not going to foster an on-going relationship. Instead, offering these services can help a solo or small practice stand out.