client delighters #1: tiered legal services

Developing new client-centric products

Its worth any legal practice spending some time investigating the types of consumer centric products which are emerging into the legal services market place.  They are grounded in detailed market research and generally developed by large existing commercial organisations who can draw on their resources and scalability.  That is not to say that their approach cannot be a success for existing high street practitioners.

The traditional legal service provider (ie solicitors’ practice), for the most part offer a single level of product, following, more or less the same structure each time.  The firm’s charging rates are stepped to enable more experienced lawyers to leverage higher fees.

More modern providers have recognised that consumers have a more sophisticated  appetite for legal products.  The one-size-fits all approach is no longer effective.

Tiered legal services

And so we have seen the development in recent years of “tiered legal products”.  Tiered products offer choice to the consumer.  They provide legal information and forms at a low base entry cost (or even for free) to clients who require this lower level of support, with increased costs only being levied for clients who want someone else to do the leg work for them, who are not confident enough to manage the process themselves, or where the matter is complex enough to warrant a more bespoke service.

These “tiered products” have a by-product.  They cater to and expose the “latent legal market”.  That is to say, the large section of the population whom are currently dissuaded from engaging with legal providers because of:

– their perceptions around cost being a barrier to accessing the service
– being time poor and not easily being able to access lawyers through the traditional channels (ie face to face meetings)
– the lack of ability for them to “window shop” for legal services.  There have traditionally been no “try before you buy” options for consumers.

There are numerous examples of organisations that are offering this concept of tiered services, including some of the likely ABS entrants.  And of course the benefit to legal businesses is that the “level one” products require little or no one to one contact.  These cases can be processed entirely electronically (subject to compliance with regulations).  Potentially a significant source of income, and an example of real value-add.  It is a service which reinvents the legal process to deliver what the client actually wants.

Be aware that ABSs in waiting are already significantly developing the notion of tiered legal services in a very structured and consumer led manner.  Of course, the advantage some of these organisations have over solicitors practices at the moment, is that they are practicing in the non-reserved, and hence unregulated field.  Their approach to service delivery can therefore be much more flexible in approach and not constrained by onerous regulation.

But there are also an increasing number of IT providers, who have already built online “level one” tiered products and document assembly systems, which legal practices can tap into and deliver to their client base.

If you’d like more information about how to set up tiered legal products in your organisation then get in touch.

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