A new hybrid of legal service delivery has launched this week with the opening of the LegalForce storefront in Palo Alto. The delivery model combines online services with the customer service of a traditional store front operation complete with a network of lawyers who charge a flat rate of $45 for 15 minutes of legal advice.
Raj Abyhanker, the lawyer who created the Trademarkia Enterprise, is responsible for this new innovation in legal service delivery. The LegalForce website provides personal online legal services in a self-help manner. The store front offers access to go online and purchase these services and also sells mobile devices, such as tablets, and legal self-help books. Employees of the store, called concierges, are there to assist customers as needed but do not provide legal advice. Customers may book appointments with lawyers online prior to meeting them in the store.
The company plans to cultivate relationships with law firms and lawyers so that the store front may be used as a meeting place for lawyers and prospective clients. The store may also be used as a way for community legal education sessions to be offered. This type of collaboration between practitioners, the community, and companies providing legal services online (and now in hybrid form) is only the beginning as I’ve suggested in past posts.
Richard Granat, who was present for the store’s launch this week, has written his first impressions on his blog and explains the value of this “click and mortar” strategy both for the public and the legal profession. [Many thanks to Richard for sharing the pictures with me as well as the overview of this model. I was unable to make it to the launch of the storefront, but plan to make it out there for a quick tour in March.]
This concept will appeal to the DIY client. It combines elements of unbundling and virtual law practice with more traditional face-time with a lawyer and the in-person customer services of a small business venue. I see two potential benefits to this model: 1) it could increase access to legal services and basic legal education for the public in a local community; and 2) it could provide lawyers with another way to offer services which could be used for client development and as part of their online and offline marketing strategies.
The company hopes to expand its branded network of lawyers outside of CA and into other states in the future. I am looking forward to seeing how their network grows and plan on including a case study of their business model in my upcoming book providing guidance on ethics issues and best practices for lawyers who want to join up with branded networks such as LegalForce as part of their online marketing strategy.