Avoiding the Commoditization of Your Law Practice

Debra L. Bruce, JD, PCC.

My last article about some of the potential ramifications of law firms going public generated quite a number of reader responses. Thanks to each of you for sharing your thoughts with me.

One email asked a question that intrigued me. The reader asked how he could keep his law practice from becoming commoditized. Both small and large law firms should be asking themselves that, because the tide has already turned toward the commoditization of many legal services.

What are commodity legal services? Generally legal services that involve routine and predictable legal issues that can be systematized into forms and processes. They don’t involve complex legal issues, or the issues have already been addressed with such frequency and regularity that they have become routine. Often each individual claim or matter involves a relatively small amount of money at risk, necessitating an inexpensive process or the economies of large volume. Through the use of questionnaires, checklists, decision trees, step-by-step instructions, standard processes and similar methods, technology enables rapid and cheap production of the relevant legal advice and documentation.
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