Hitting the small and solo sweet spot

  • August 24, 2017

Quality. Accessibility. Profitability.

Law firms with all of these characteristics have hit the “sweet spot” of legal practice, says Noel Semple, assistant professor at the University of Windsor Faculty of Law.  The problem is that most small and solo law firms generally hit only two of the three.

In a white paper titled Accessibility, Quality and Profitability for Personal Plight Law Firms: Hitting the Sweet Spot, published by the CBA, Semple describes the professional challenges facing lawyers and identifies sustainable innovations to make their services more accessible while maintaining quality and profitability.

The paper primarily addresses contested personal plight cases – divorces rather than wills, for example. Personal plight clients, he writes “are more likely than other clients to be legally inexperienced and to have needs with emotive and non-legal aspects.” That lack of experience creates its own difficulties, as those clients will likely need more explanation, figurative or literal hand-holding, and may be less capable of taking on some tasks themselves – something noted both here and in the 2014 Futures report as a way of reducing costs.

Semple conducted interviews with 32 personal plight legal practitioners across the country and draws extensively on those interviews for the content of the paper.

Innovations discussed in the paper include:

  • price certainty as a way of attracting clients;
  • allowing clients to defer payment
  • unbundling services
  • delegating work to junior staff or to clients
  • working with non-legal professionals – including entrepreneurs and venture capitalists who can finance litigation
  • small firms working collaboratively – or in a franchise situation – with larger firms to combine the small firm’s access to and knowledge of a client base with the larger firm’s greater resources.

The book is available on the CBA website