Internet Newsletter for Lawyers
Edited by Nick Holmes and Delia Venables
About 10 years ago there was a strong feeling in the legal profession that selling legal services and documents online was going to be one of the big features of the future. I set up a section on my website for this topic at www.venables.co.uk/selling.htm with subdivisions for firms of solicitors doing this, companies doing this, and various other aspects of online activity including referral and marketing panels, and price and service comparison sites.
However, far from growing steadily, this first section in particular has struggled to add new firms and indeed, many of the firms originally doing this have now stopped doing so. There are now fewer than 20 firms that appear to be doing this and, in many of these cases, the services offered are very limited in scope and are certainly not the main means by which they are delivering their legal services.
Why has this aspect of legal services failed to grow?
A good website with lots of useful information is no longer enough; the site has to be “marketed”.
Over the last 10 or 15 years, a large number of digital marketing companies have sprung up, typically offering to design and implement an impressive website and provide it with the key factors which will encourage the viewer to make contact and, hopefully, to become a client. These companies offer some of the following:
In the last issue of this Newsletter, I wrote an article on the main suppliers of cloud based software for lawyers. I described the suppliers who have developed software for the cloud, from the ground up (no pun intended), with no option for in-house use; there were about 30 suppliers, and their offerings, described in that article.
This covered many of the newer suppliers who have seen an opportunity for developing easy-to-use legal software in the cloud, particularly for smaller users, as well as some of the older, and well established suppliers who have developed a completely new software system for cloud use.
There are a large number of companies offering legal software to lawyers – around 100 at my last count. The software section of my website www.venables.co.uk/software.htm lists and describes them all, A to Z.
As well as the A to Z sections, I now provide a section called “Cloud, Outsourcing and Hosted Systems” at www.venables.co.uk/outsourcing.htm. More and more new suppliers are developing their software specifically for online use and this is now quite a large section, with 30 suppliers.
Nick Holmes and I have been covering “virtual law firms” in the Internet Newsletter for Lawyers since 2006. In May 2007, I wrote an article called “Virtual Law Firms – where we are now” which looked at several of the firms we had already covered, and cross linked this with the size of firm, the type of clients they were working for and the type of work covered. I also looked at practical issues like the need for social contact between fee-earners, secretarial support, handling accounts and practice management, telephone, post and fax (remember fax?), sharing of fees and (importantly) why they had decided to “go virtual”.
You can view all articles on virtual practice which have appeared in this Newsletter over the years at www.infolaw.co.uk/newsletter/category/virtual-practice/ (this includes a couple relating to Chambers).
Looking back at these articles now, it appears that the so-called “virtual firms” were still, at that time, trying to be a “real” firm, generally with a central office (which could be the senior partner’s home) and still requiring SRA registration, but with developing solutions for computers, software, telephone, secretarial services and accounts. Despite all the new technology, however, I would say that they were still firms of solicitors that my father (who was senior partner of Vinters in Cambridge in the 1960s) would have recognised.
Fast track forward to 2016, and it seems as if the phrase “virtual firm” is not really used any more, probably since most firms will be using many of the characteristic new technologies involved and they are just normal firms.
This is a personal selection of blogs which I feel are of use to lawyers, derived from my 100 Best Legal Blogs page where links to all the blogs will be found.
See also Nick Holmes’ Lawfinder: Blogs which catalogues over 400 law blogs with associated feeds; and, as to what makes a good blog, see his article “Writing out loud” in Legal Web Watch February 2016.
Richard Hugo–Hamman of LEAP Legal Software interviewed by Delia Venables
- Legal Web Watch April 2017: Robots and the law
- CPD and continuing competence in 2017
- Delia’s legal web picks April 2017
- Online courts and cyber judges
- Online courts: the human impact
- Completing legal directory submissions for the Bar
- Legal services market – who are you afraid of?
- Digitising the courts
- What is predictive coding?
- Solicitors selling legal services online
- Latest articles feed
- PDFs of the Newsletter
- Legal Web Watch