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The channels I follow that focus on solo practitioners' challenges often mention the threat posed to lawyers by the growing number of DIY legal solutions, primarily for consumer-facing matters.

Solos, usually limited in the size of their support staff, already know they must embrace technology in both the practice of law (automating many legal tasks) and the business of law (automating operations and marketing) if they hope to serve clients profitably and have a life, too. Many of these discussion threads focus on the challenges of trying to automateIMO, the problem is managing expectations properly, not implementation per se.

We acknowledge that RainmakerVT, our online business development training, is a "90% solution." By that we mean that you can learn 90% of what you need, inexpensively and conveniently. The other 10% is situation-specific, which automation cannot address because of the infinite variables. We urge human coaching for that "last mile" specificity, to guide you to apply what you learned successfully. Coaching is expensive; you shouldn't use it for the 90%, only the 10% where there's appropriate value and need.

It seems that do-it-yourself law solution providers should embrace and validate the importance of DIY software being combined with a lawyer's advice. IMO, they'd be wise to position their solutions differently: "Do everything you can using our software, then go to a lawyer for the peace-of-mind factor, i.e., to make sure the final output is complete, correct, compliant, valid, etc."

As an example, let's use Trust and Estate considerations, which few consumers are likely to have much knowledge or experience. Managed properly, online solutions could educate consumers about the issues their lawyer and they will have to decide. That would reduce the cost of using a lawyer, and increase the effective safety and reliability of the software-based solution. It's economically inefficient for lawyers to educate clients via hourly billing. 

To use a tennis analogy, Andy Murray didn't hire former world champion Ivan Lendl to teach him about tennis and show him how to hit a forehand. Murray did all that through other, more cost-effective means. He hired Lendl to teach him how to win using the skills Murray acquired elsewhere, and to alert him to additional skills he'll need if he's to implement Lendl's winning strategies effectively.

Likewise, consumers should learn all they can about their problem online before consulting a professional. Otherwise, it's hard to know which professional to consult, or to have any context or perspective about the solution options and decision criteria. With that foundation, the professional can function more as an advisor, which is a higher-value service.

If I spent four hours with a lawyer at $300/hour, and the first three were devoted to educating me, I'd feel like $900 was largely wasted because that information could have been obtained otherwise for far less, if not zero cost.

As FMC GC Jeffrey Carr is so often quoted, legal practice consists of four buckets:
- Advocacy
- Counseling
- Process
- Information

He argues that only the first two have sufficient economic value to justify paying an expert. The others are now readily available online, usually for free.

There's one caveat to all this: We're looking at Online Law 1.0. Over time, these tools will gain in sophistication and reliability. Consider the relative sophistication of TurboTax now vs. 20-odd years ago. Would you use TurboTax for a complicated tax return with trusts, multiple securities transactions, etc.? Probably not, but you can use it reliably for a lot more complexity than you could in its earlier iterations.

If I was a T&E lawyer today, I'd embrace the technology and integrate it into a packaged solution that combines free education, inexpensive learning online, and expert guidance and capability. That would allow the consumer to accomplish inexpensively what software can do, under your guidance and final oversight. Most consumers perceive lawyers as beyond their financial means. That's why the law-software market is growing so fast and attracting sophisticated investors such as Google Ventures.

It's certain that people are going to use online legal solutions. The question is, will they use them badly, dangerously, without guidance and supervision, or appropriately, with your professional guidance? The former reinforces consumer perceptions that the law is a rigged game, too complicated by far. The latter gives people their first taste of what a good lawyer can do for them, which includes not wasting their money performing tasks at premium prices that can be accomplished for far less.

Mike O'Horo

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.