Law firms are no longer limited to how they manage their practice. As the legal industry continues to adopt modern practices due to client demand, law firms have the opportunity to introduce new, creative ways to offer their legal services.
One area in particular that has evolved is how clients access and pay for legal services. With the introduction of legal billing software and online payment processing, firms can offer clients different methods of payment outside of a traditional retainer, like payment plans or subscriptions.
In this article, we’ll discuss how legal subscription models can help firms streamline their legal billing and offer clients a range of services that fit their specific needs.
What Is a Legal Subscription Service?
A subscription-based law firm provides client services on a fixed payment schedule. Under this arrangement, your clients can subscribe to a payment plan. They’re usually billed a flat fee rather than by the hour.
With a legal subscription service, your clients can choose the type of legal support they need. Instead of serving as your client’s full-time attorney, you can work with them on specific tasks. If a client only needs a lawyer for document management or legal advice, a legal subscription service would allow them access to these services when they need them.
Essentially, a legal subscription service allows your clients to choose a-la-carte legal services instead of hiring an attorney for guidance with one case.
Are Subscription Services for Law Firms Legal?
According to the American Bar Association (ABA), law firms must create a reasonable payment agreement that depends on the following factors:
- Time and work spent on the case
- Time limitations
- The nature of the attorney-client relationship
- If the fee is predetermined or contingent
- The lawyers’ reputation and education
- The likelihood of success of the case
Attorneys can’t treat a legal service subscription as a streaming service account or a gym membership. In other words, no matter how little or how much the customer uses it, they are getting charged the same amount every month.
Your firm can provide certain benefits to your clients to avoid ethical violations. For example, your staff could host a webinar every month only they can access. Alternatively, send out a newsletter to give your clients a deeper look into what your firm does, what they can expect from the process, and general advice. It might not necessarily have to be a one-on-one service to meet the ABA’s ethical standards.
Why Should Law Firms Adopt a Legal Subscription Service Model?
Subscription services at law firms can make securing legal assistance more accessible, broadening the reach of clients a firm retains.
Advantages of a Subscription-Based Law Firm
Opting for a subscription-based legal service can provide various benefits, such as:
- Building a long-term client-attorney relationship: The longer your clients are subscribed to your services, there is more opportunity to flourish the relationship. You’ll get to know each other better, which can give you a deeper look into their needs. As a result, you can find solutions and create a tailored client experience.
- Keeping up a steady income: The subscription model entails a fixed payment your firm receives every month. Knowing what to expect can help you allocate your resources and structure your time more efficiently.
Challenges With Legal Subscription Models
Adopting a new payment model can take some trial and error for both you and your clients. If you’re interested in offering subscription services at your firm, you should consider the following:
- Evaluate the benefits for your firm: Legal subscriptions are a fairly new concept in the legal industry. You’ll want to understand your firm’s cash flow and assess how a subscription service would impact your financial health.
- Understand your client’s needs: You know your clients best. Using this as a guide, determine the best course of action to introduce the subscription service model outlining the benefits. Remember, a subscription model doesn’t have to eliminate other payment methods your firm offers — it should be an added bonus.
If your firm already uses law firm software to manage legal billing and process online payments, implementing a subscription-based model will be less of a hurdle for both your firm and your clients.
Creating and Implementing a Legal Subscription Model
When considering implementing a subscription legal service model, reference your law firm business plan and how it can help achieve your goals. Along with this, you should consider your practice area, your location, and your target clientele. Once you evaluate the essential areas of your business, consider the following:
- Revenue generation potential
- Structure of the subscription model
- Potential risks of a subscription model
Your success in each of these areas may be contingent on how you communicate with your clients, especially when it comes to legal billing. Having a detailed legal billing policy that is concise and easily accessible to the client is vital. Once created, use PracticePanther’s legal document management software to easily store and share your legal billing policy. Your firm can then send the document to clients via email, text message, or the client portal.
Use this example workflow to easily incorporate a subscription legal service model plan at your firm:
Start with your best foot forward and incorporate these tools in the client onboarding process. Create an automated workflow that has the client review the billing policy right away, including payment terms, options, and plans, as well as subscription plans. Once terms are agreed upon, your firm can use PracticePanther’s eSignature software to allow the client to electronically sign from any device.
This is just a quick example of how easy PracticePanther makes it to manage and customize your practice.
Outlook on Subscription Legal Service Models
Although subscription legal services are relatively new, your firm can trust that implementing a subscription model plan can help build client relationships. Many clients face anxieties about how much a lawyer will cost. By offering your firm’s services on a subscription plan, you can ease this worry. Clients can pay a flat fee and choose exactly how they want a lawyer to help them.
Your clients will know what they’re looking for help with, allowing your firm’s lawyers to efficiently address their needs. A subscription-based plan allows your practice to build lasting partnerships with clients and maintain a steady income.
Start a free trial using our practice management software today.
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