confused consumer- canstockphoto10890533.jpg

From time to time we share others' insights with you. Today's guest blogger is Lawrence Tepperman, founder of LegalLinkup.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

We’re all used to being the butt of lawyer jokes, but lawyers provide a valuable service to many people needing legal support in times of great stress. As a general rule, outside of the corporate realm people need lawyers when they're in crisis and need help navigating a complex justice system.

Although it's almost completely untrue, we nonetheless understand the popular anti-lawyer prejudice; as our economy continues to struggle and the gap between the "haves" and the "have-nots" widens, the average American likely feels excluded from the legal system. It's expensive, convoluted, and for the uninitiated, downright intimidating.

At the same time, the do-it-yourself movement has expanded into the legal realm. Legal templates (such as wills and many contracts) are instantly accessible online for a fraction of the cost of paying a qualified lawyer to do the work. Many experts expect that in the near future, these now-inexpensive legal templates will be available for free.

It’s a proverbial “perfect storm” for lawyers, who must now figure out how to continue to build a client base while competing not only with other lawyers, but with this new onslaught of inexpensive online resources.

Beyond direct referrals, making connections with clients can be problematic, as typical marketing tools for lawyers do not afford them the opportunity to make the personal connections required to make clients comfortable with them, and with the legal process.

One solution with a proven track record is the emergence of online matching sites for lawyers. For decades now, people have been using the internet to shop for anything from shoes to soul mates, yet the legal community continues to market itself through fairly outdated means. Those taking advantage of online technology generally do so through passive tactics like directory listings. Some work to improve on search engine optimization, but with over 1.25 million lawyers in the US, we need to do more than simply wait to be found on Google.

Far more than a simple directories, online legal matching services work in a fashion similar to online dating sites, i.e., connecting lawyers with clients needing their particular expertise; think "eHarmony meets Priceline," but for lawyers. This model has taken off in Europe, and is now gaining traction in North America.

Combining technical features of online dating sites with proprietary algorithms, such services enable lawyers to personally reach out to clients needing legal support. Clients are able to post their needs on the site, and lawyers can then view those postings and quote on projects that interest them.

One such site takes the process even further by having relevant listings sent directly to lawyers in the appropriate practice area. In this model, when you receive new listings that you're interested in pursuing, you can connect online with the clients to ask questions and gather more information before opting to provide a proposal for your services. This cuts through the clutter and greatly streamlines the process for lawyers.

Taking the marketing process online in a thoughtful, targeted manner is enabling practitioners in all areas to develop new clients. With the majority of potential clients beginning their search online, there is a lot lawyers can do to help themselves get found--by the right people.

Mike O'Horo

In RainmakerVT's online world, you can learn how to get found and how to get chosen. You know you have to improve your business development skills to get the business you need. But most of the training you see offered feels more like a degree program with a someday/maybe payoff rather than the specific help you need right now.

RainmakerVT is the most innovative, effective, convenient and affordable business development training you can get. And you don’t have to commit to a long, drawn-out training program. RainmakerVT is just-in-time training. That means that In 15-30-minute chunks, available from any computer or tablet 24/7, each course teaches you a concrete, practical skill you can apply right now, to the immediate challenge in front of you. Buy only what you need, only when you need it.

Take a look at our course list, and then read what lawyers like you said about RainmakerVT in user-feedback interviews.