Speaking of the flood of mergers consolidating the legal marketplace, another new wave is also just now hitting that promises to further dilute the piece of the action that law firms have traditionally enjoyed.
At the beginning of this month, the UK’s Solicitors Regulation Authority officially opened its doors to at least a dozen applicants, including law firms, claims management companies, major retailers, accounting firms, loss adjusters, private equity houses, legal expense insurers, banks, will-writing companies, and even in-house law departments, wanting to become Alternative Business Structures (ABSs) under the long-anticipated provisions of the Legal Services Act.
So commences the tsunami that is likely to quickly reach our shores and shake up the American legal market–producing even more avenues for consumers to get legal services outside the old traditional law firms. And therefore reducing even more the little growth in legal industry dollars that such firms can hope to lay claim to. The ABA has already planned an endorsement of limited, lawyer-controlled multi-disciplinary partnerships, states are proposing statutes that allow ABSs, and a lawsuit has been launched by Jacoby & Meyers against the existing restrictions in the US prohibiting non-lawyer ownership of firms.
Commentators have noted that even without the the ABA’s blessing of ABSs, investments into competitors of traditional law delivery firms are already promising an impact on the market. For example, Google and other investors recently made an infusion of capital into RocketLawyer, an extensive library of self-help legal documents along with a database of registered lawyers available for consultation as needed, or perhaps not needed.
Which furthers the necessity of knowing what your firm brings to the consumer particularly well –not only now but also after the effects of the tsunami start rolling in.