by Lisa Hardin
As a new attorney who decided to open her own estate planning law firm, I am faced with the ongoing challenge of finding clients. More specifically: finding the right clients. I find it even more challenging as an attorney who is starting out in a time where potential clients are finding it easier to “do it themselves” with the assistance of online tools like Legal Zoom.
The following is a conversation that I had too many times with potential clients:
Client: “How much do you charge for a will”
Me: “Well it depends, but a typical range can be somewhere between ____ and ____.”
Client: “Well Legal Zoom charges $70.00.”
Of course, I could not compete with this price. This is where I would spend a great length of time discussing all of the things Legal Zoom cannot do, but that I can. I no longer do this, and I will tell you why.
As new attorneys, and especially those that are faced with the daunting task of bringing in clients, we are eager to take any client that comes through the door. I hesitate at doing just that, although it is very tempting at times when things are slow. I am most hesitant with individuals that compare my cost to the cost of online tools like Legal Zoom. After having the above conversation several times, I realized there are those that see value in the service I provide and those that merely see what I do as a product.
This realization brought me to an important question: “Am I providing a service or a product?” I practice in the area of estate planning, and at the end of an attorney-client relationship my clients typically leave with five documents: a will, general durable power of attorney, medical power of attorney, living will, and instructions for disposition of last remains. So some may think I am providing a product to my clients. But I disagree.
From the moment a client calls my office and beyond the time he signs his documents I am providing a service. I am able to provide my clients with services that are not available with online “DIY” tools.
As a new attorney, I have learned that it is important to recognize that I provide important services to my clients and that I must give value to such services. This means that I cannot win over every potential client who compares my prices to online DIY tools. Instead, I have accepted that an individual who chooses such online tools rather than seeing the value in the service I am able to provide them would likely not be the right client for me. It can be hard to say “no” to a potential client, especially when things are slow around the office, but in the end you are valuing yourself and the services you provide. It is important to always do this and never undervalue what you do as an attorney.
Lisa Hardin is a solo, estate and tax planning practitioner. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Colorado and her law degree from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. Lisa also received her Masters of Laws in Taxation at the University of Denver. In her free time, Lisa enjoys spending time with her husband, Erik, and her boxer, Gracie. Lisa enjoys traveling to new places and trying the many new restaurants in Denver. She can be reached by email, her firm’s website, or facebook.