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I love learning spending time with people younger than me and finding inspiration in their new approached to old problems. So, I was all-in for a legal seminar billed as a look ahead at the practice of family law.
So, what does a generation of lawyers raised online have to contribute to a once dignified and respected profession?
Our first presenter, a chipper young man, spent most of his time telling us about his new Corvette and his revolutionary flat-fee billing formula for family law cases. There’s the basic fee plan, the plus plan, and the all inclusive flat fee plan. After a while, his Wizard of Oz formula with all its exceptions, exclusions, and add-on fees felt disingenuous. I guess it’s all in how you sell the proposition.
Traditionally, family law lawyers have billed their time in 15 minute increments, providing a work description to justify the expenditure. Then, a monthly billing statement is sent to the client. This is how we do it at Schreier & Housewirth… and I like my Volkswagen!
Our next visionary was from Avvo.com world headquarters in Seattle. With caffeine in his veins, he gushed that billions and billions of dollars are being poured into new and exciting online legal service providers. Pretty soon, he says, clients will get their legal needs met online… possibly without even talking to a lawyer.
The logic follows that we lawyers need to all get with the Avvo program and start chatting up prospective clients on line. Of course, if a client wants to hear a human voice, he or she can buy a phone consultation with a lawyer for $40. The participating lawyer has the Avvo app on his phone to connect with shoppers, or clients as we used to call them.
When I close my eyes, I see myself in this new world as a can of corn in a cavernous Amazon warehouse, waiting to be pulled from the shelf by order fulfillment.
But, family law is about humans and the human condition. A Shakespeare play or a Beethoven symphony, lives on today because these works speak to something deeply enduring in all of us.
So long as our clients have hearts and souls, we believe family law is best done face to face. We are professionals, not commodities. We provide our clients not only the benefit of our knowledge… but also our wisdom.