I started publishing the eLawyering blog in 2008 to inform the discussion within the legal profession about such issues as virtual lawyering, storing data in the cloud, ethical issues around the online delivery of legal services, and other topics that emanated from the work of the ABAs eLawyering Task Force. I co-chaired this group with Marc Lauritsen from 2000 to 2017, until it was disbanded as many of the issues addressed by the Task Force and discussed in the blog had been resolved. I moved on to other projects. I was honored that the American Bar Association Journal recognized this blog as one of the top 100 legal blogs several years in a row.
This year looks like it is the year that everyone is discussing the productization of legal services, an area that I have been involved in for more than two decades, so I decided I had something to say about the subject. The result is the launch of this new Law Product Makers blog focused on productizing legal services.
This blog is for lawyers and others interested in converting legal services into legal products. By a law product, I mean a digital application that solves a legal problem for a user without the services of a lawyer. The scope of this blog includes discussion and reports on the concepts of both “law products” and “productized legal services.” A “productized legal service” is similar to a law product but includes a service element. It is a legal service but highly automated. One could also call this a software-powered legal service.
This blog is narrowly focused on the law product concept. It does not deal with the broader subject of legal technology products and services. For example, I would not consider a law practice management solution such as CLIO, MyCase, or RocketMatter as “law products” because they automate the work of non-lawyers. A Law Practice Management application is a back-office solution. It is not a legal service.
Solo and Small Law Firms
I have a particular interest in solo and small law firm practice. These law firms are the beating heart of the legal profession but are threatened by law product companies that are directly competitive with the legal services they offer. Offering software-powered legal services is one way of responding to these competitive threats.
Subscribers to this blog also get access to a discussion group on Linkedin, which supports a community of law product developers. This is a place where questions can be asked and answered.
What Will You Get From Subscribing to this Blog
My goal is to educate lawyers and entrepreneurs who have decided to become law product makers. I want to help them avoid mistakes, increase their chance of success, and create a sustainable business.
I can provide you with:
- Information on who is creating the latest innovative law products;
- Stories about lawyers and law firms successfully launching law products;
- Information and analysis about tools that help you create a law product or automate a legal service;
- Best practices and techniques for creating law products;
- How to finance the development of law products;
- Pro bono and Legal Service Program efforts to encourage the development of law products;
- Regulatory and ethical issues in offering law products and automated legal services;
- Marketing approaches to providing law products;
- Pricing strategies; and
- Unbundled Legal Services and Productized Legal Services.
I have won awards for my work:
- Served as Co-Chair of the eLawyering Task Force of the Law Practice Management Division of the American Bar Association.
- Served on the Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services of the ABA.
- The ABA Journal named me as one of 50 Legal Rebels (2009).
- Received the Louis M. Brown Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Bar Association in recognition of work innovating in the delivery of legal services (2010).
- Named a FastCase 50 Winner of top legal innovators (2013).
- Received the ABA James I. Keane Memorial Award for Excellence in the Delivery of Legal Services (2013).
- Fellow of the College of Law Practice Management.
More About Me
I became interested in “law products” around 1995 when the Internet began to take off. At the time, I managed a clinic for pro se litigants in family law at the University of Maryland Law School and taught a course in Computer Applications and the Law.
I had this idea that lawyers should publish legal information and legal forms on the Internet; a new concept at the time. I secured a grant from the Abell Foundation to create the People’s Law Library of Maryland, a legal information resource on the Internet for the citizens of Maryland.
This project turned out to be my first legal publication/product on the Internet. When the grant funds ran out, I supported the Library as a volunteer until 1998 at which time I arranged a transfer to the Maryland Legal Services Corporation. Eventually, the Library ended up as a Maryland State Law Library project where it is presently supported with adequate and long-term financial resources. (See the history of the People’s Law Library here.) The People’s Law Library is still thriving 25 years later and attracts more than 1,000,000 visitors a year. It became a model for state-wide legal information websites in every state. The People’s Law Library was an early success for me and encouraged me to move down this path.
In 1995 Law Schools Considered the Internet a Fad.
I realized that being at the law school was a dead end. At the time, the law faculty didn’t think that law students learning about information technology and the Internet was relevant. Some faculty members said this internet thing was just a fad.
It’s the .com era, so let’s start an Internet Company.
During this time period, it seemed like everyone was starting a company that would deliver something over the web. So, in 1998 I resigned from my position to start my company whose mission was to develop and sell legal software applications over the Internet. The company was then called MyLawyer.com, Inc. (now owned by Epoq Ltd.).
I started the company in my basement and financed it with my own funds.
It was tough to make a living selling legal information and legal forms over the Internet during this early period. But, I stayed at it until we began to get some traction, and I was able to into key partnerships that sustained our enterprise during a difficult start-up period.
In 2000, I licensed an online document assembly solution called Rapidocs from Epoq, London. At the time, Epoq was the leading company in the United Kingdom providing online legal forms services to consumers generally and to institutions. Epoq was ahead of its time. Once we had access to a web-based interactive document assembly solution, we entered into more significant partnerships, which resulted in a level of sales volume that provided a solid financial base to the company.
In 2003, I launched my law firm – www.mdfamilylawyer.com – with a virtual law firm platform to deliver legal services online. That platform incorporated the Rapidocs document assembly solution, which I used to automate Maryland’s state-wide standardized divorce and family law forms. After a slow start, this online law firm continues to thrive today.
Some of My Ventures
In addition to my online law firm, I have been the founder and CEO of several law product ventures. Here is a short list:
- Founder and CEO, SmartLegalForms, Inc. (2004 – 2017)
- Founder and CEO, DirectLaw, Inc. (2009 – 2017)
- Founder and CEO, LawMediaLabs, Inc. (2017 – present)
To learn about me, go here.
If you have made it this far … thank you.
I deeply value the relationships that I have already developed in this growing community and hope to create more friends and relationships due to this Blog.
My strength is teaching lawyers and others how to develop and distribute law products and create a profitable business.
So, if this subject is something you are interested in or have questions about, don’t hesitate to reach out or subscribe to this blog here:
Please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions. I would love to hear from you.