Updated: Oct 15
With so many trends driving innovation in the legal industry, it can be difficult for a law firm to know or decide where to begin their transformation. For instance, do you start with client experience, internal processes, or service delivery? Moreover, what role can technology play? These are all important considerations that can quickly become overwhelming, especially if a law firm is still establishing its ‘niche’ in the market, or conversely, is grounded by years of tradition. Both are scenarios which can make innovation a daunting pursuit, one that can very well ‘make or break’ a firm. Having said that, a commonality among all law firms despite the stage of growth is delivering services to clients. Thus, focusing transformation efforts on the ‘client experience’ and adding value to service delivery is an indiscriminate approach applicable to all law firms.
We recently published an article, ‘CX, Technology and Legal Services’, in which we broadly explored the innovations that are transforming the client journey and enhancing clients’ experience with a firm. In this article, we examine an innovation that is transforming legal services and augmenting the way client services are delivered, a process now commonly known as ‘Productised Legal Services’.
What are Productised Legal Services?
Productised Legal Services as defined by Lucy Dickens, author of ‘Doing Law Differently’, is a legal service that is packaged, priced and delivered like a product. It represents a shift away from traditional fixed business models with billable hours, towards more flexible and scalable service offerings driven by widespread digitisation and growing client expectations.
In this way, legal expertise is leveraged to offer standardised services optimised and supported by technology. According to Lucy Dickens, productised legal services have three distinct, and essential elements:
A predefined scope
A fixed price
A systemised delivery
A pre-defined scope sets standardised deliverables and outcomes of the service.
For example, the standardised deliverables of a productised legal service for property conveyancing might be the transference of ownership and relevant documentation. While the outcomes are meeting the client’s expectations and saving them time and resources. The scope is standard and comes pre-prepared.
A fixed price determines the standard cost of delivering the service.
Given that the scope of the service and outcomes are standardised, you should be able to calculate and determine a standardised cost of delivery. This approach means your legal department can focus on the effectiveness of service delivery, rather than the time it takes for service delivery.
A systemised delivery is the standard processes or systems through which the productised service is delivered.
Here is where law firms can distinguish themselves from other law firms by delivering services more efficiently and providing clients with more unique experiences using technology. The systems and processes are what drives service delivery, and the more clear, repeatable, and scalable they are, the more likely the service will be valued by clients.
With that said, traditional productised legal services are sometimes considered to have limitations in their application, in that they are typically only designed for certain types of work or matters (e.g. property conveyancing, wills, etc) and for a certain type of audience (e.g. consumer or SME). However, if the product is designed to incorporate legal advice and expertise alongside automation and fixed fee pricing, the productised legal service can become applicable to corporate and government organisations. A client intake form for a repeatable commercial property agreement is an example. The work can be ‘productised’ as the submission of the form can trigger actions, document automation, and review by the law firm. In the context of a more sophisticated client, the client intake forms would be tailored for that specific clients’ needs, delivered through a standardised system with a standardised pricing agreement.
This type of productised legal services will certainly continue to grow as the demand for technology to improve efficiencies continues. However, we believe the innovators in the legal industry are now looking beyond productising legal services, to legal solutions.
Moving from productised legal services to legal solutions
Legal innovator, Helena Lawrence, suggests the future of law will combine a product and service to solve a particular client need and subsequently, law firms will become a solutions provider.
According to Lawrence:
A Product is a single ‘thing’ sold to many customers.
In this context, it can be something such as document or contract automation software, which is sold to many customers ‘out-of-the-box’ in essentially the same format.