SixFifty Technologies LLC. is a relatively new entrant into the automated legal forms marketplace focusing on providing automated employment legal forms and policies to corporations that range in size from 50 employees to 1,000 and larger. Examples of employment law forms include state-specific employment contracts, employment manuals, independent contractor agreements, privacy solutions, and return-to-work policies.

The company is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, P.C., probably the leading law firm in Silicon Valley and one of the top law firms in the world. However, SixFifty clarifies in its terms of use and in a disclaimer that it is separated from Wilson Sonsini and that SixFifty Is not a law firm.

SixFifty is led by Kimball Dean Parker, 37, who comes to the role of CEO from the LawX Lab at BYU Law School, of which he still remains as Director.  Previously Parker developed and founded CO/COUNSEL, a legal education and crowdsourcing website. He was recognized by the ABA Journal as a Legal Rebel in 2019.

Parker says that SixFifty is not intended to be a source of referrals for Wilson Sonsini.

Parker also says many lawyers create chandeliers for their clients at high prices, whereas clients need light bulbs at reasonable prices. His commitment is to deliver high-end expertise to companies and others at a price they can afford. The strategy is working as Parker says that they have already helped over “1,000 companies and over 20,000 people with their legal issues.”

The pricing for the law products of SixFifty is relatively expensive when compared to other legal form websites. For example, the Employment Manual product starts at a subscription price of $2,500 and increases from there depending on the company’s size. The Return-to-Work application begins at approximately $4,000 for smaller companies and increases to $9,500 annually for larger companies. Nevertheless, these prices are 80% less than what a lawyer would charge, so there is still a substantial saving.

SixFifty is a good example of what I called a “pure play law product” business model. The offering is a library of automated legal forms built on the expertise from a branded source- the law firm of Wilson, Sonsini. The target market is the human resource department and general counsel of companies that deal with the employment issues within companies.

These customers normally buy their legal services from law firms. SixFifty provides an alternative to purchasing a legal form from a law firm by providing a law product that contains the same expertise that a law firm offers, but no legal advice is provided. SixFifty is directly competitive with law firms that service companies in the employment law area.

Parker says that the company wants to develop a lower-tier pricing strategy for very small business entities. Parker also reports that he is committed to creating free applications that SixFifty makes available to legal aid and pro bono legal aid organizations and individuals of low and moderate income. Already published applications included a letter to landlords requesting a rent deferral under Federal Law due to the pandemic and a letter to mortgage lenders requesting mortgage forbearance also under Federal Law.

If there’s a theme connecting the various projects, Parker says, it’s “making kind of top-level legal expertise available to as many people as possible.”

What can be learned?

I am interested in SixFifty because it is a classic example of productizing a legal service.

Now that SixFifty is moving to dominate this niche, what are the implications for employment law firms and other law product makers who want to move into this market space?

  1. Given the capital resources and expertise of Wilson Sonsini, SixFifty has an opportunity to dominate the employment law legal forms market. While there are other competitors, SixFfty has the advantage of leveraging off on the Wilson. Sonsini brand. My opinion is that future entrepreneurs should now avoid this marketplace, as SixFifty will become the dominant player nationally. There is no room for a #2.
  1. However, because of the relatively high price point, there is an opportunity for individual law firms to automate state-specific employment policies and documents within their respective state markets and offer these products to their clients for free or at a low price. As a way of attracting traffic to a law firm, either self-help employment law forms or employment law forms bundled with legal advice for a fixed fee can be a powerful traffic generator.
  1. Offering employment law forms for a fixed fee bundled with legal advice is another way to differentiate a law firm’s services from SixFifty.
  1. Since the value-added service of an employment law practice is defending the company from employee complaints and lawsuits, a legal forms service, which reduces the employer’s risk of employee litigation, would be viewed by employers as a valuable service.
  1. SixFifty uses a proprietary document automation platform created by Wilson, Sonsini. I would not develop my own proprietary document automation platform as it is capital intensive to develop. There are excellent, no-code, document automation applications available at reasonable prices that can be licensed for this use. The capital required to create a proprietary document automation platform would be prohibitive and a drain on resources that needs to be devoted to content development and marketing.

SixFifty: Some takeaways:

  • Find a niche, as SixFifty, has identified one that no one has yet served and has a source of expertise not easily available to other developers. Move quickly to dominate the niche space.
  • For would-be competitors to SixFifty, avoid the major market. Find the niche within the niche and differentiate. There is gold in the crevices. “This long tail as a business strategy works” writes Kevin O’Keefe.
  • Law firms with a state or regional practice focused on employment law could create highly-specific automated employment forms bundled with legal advice and offer them at a low annual subscription price. This would create a competitive barrier to SixFifty and enable the local employment law firm to defend itself from SixFifty’s competitive move.

My analysis is not definitive. Further discussion and comments are welcome in our discussion group on LinkedIn.