Inside Track: Is the Untapped Legal Market on Your Radar?:

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    Is the Untapped Legal Market on Your Radar?

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    June 18, 2014 – A huge segment of the legal market, 85 percent, is untapped and lawyers need to move quickly before this segment is gobbled up by nonlawyer online legal service providers. In this video, Jordan Furlong, lawyer, consultant, and legal industry futurist, talks about this virtually untapped audience with legal needs that are not even on lawyers’ radars.

    This is Furlong’s second of a three-part WisBar InsideTrack video series on this topic. Previously, Furlong talked about how three factors – technology, competition, and regulation – plus the impact of the economic downturn –are changing the fundamentals of the legal market. He urges lawyers to use technology, be aware of the fast-rising nonlawyer legal service providers, and be prepared for changes in regulation. All three factors together will change how we practice law.

    Furlong cautions lawyers that new providers are taking aim at a large segment of the legal market – what Furlong calls the untapped legal market – and they are finding ways to serve it.

    The Untapped Legal Market

    “Lawyers have never really served the entire legal market,” says Furlong. “There are many needs that we have not even noticed or said there’s not enough money in that for us.”

    The analogy Furlong frequently uses is that of an iceberg – 15 percent above water and 85 percent below the surface. “The 15 percent above water is the legal market that we all know very well,” he says.

    The 85 percent beneath the water are people who don’t have the funds or don’t have the ability to access legal services, or can’t afford to engage the services of a lawyer at the prices lawyers are currently charging. Furlong says, “This is a huge missed opportunity that has real impact. Any litigator who has been in court with a self-represented litigant understands very well that problem of pro se representation is rarely, if ever, good for the litigant, and it always has huge negative impact on the court process.”

    When lawyers talk about the legal market, they tend to think about the clients they have traditionally served that are fairly easy to find. This is the 15 percent, which surveys consistently show is the limited market that lawyers serve.

    Lawyers Need to Change the Way They Do Business and Find Clients

    “Let’s change the way you think,” says Furlong. “Define the legal market more broadly as anybody who is in a situation with a justiciable issue – some problem or challenge or situation or opportunity that is legal in nature or related to the law in some way and demands or absolutely requires some kind of attention.”

    Who is in that 85 percent not served? Yes, it includes people who don’t have the funds or don’t have the ability to access or can’t afford to engage the services of a lawyer at the prices lawyers are currently charging. But it’s more than just them.

    “Surveys also show that almost half of the people with justiciable issues will try to work out a solution for themselves,” says Furlong. “Maybe about a fifth will throw their hands up and do nothing, maybe a fifth will try other solutions from options such as the government or unions or family or friends. Only 10 to 15 percent are coming to lawyers.

    Furlong says lawyers are becoming increasingly incidental because we have priced our work and operate our firms in ways that do not and were never really meant to extend to the entire market. We are already not anybody’s first choice. We need to turn that around. That is the challenge we now have as a profession. We need to become critical rather than incidental to the functioning of the legal market.

    In the final video, published in the July 2 edition of InsideTrack, Furlong will discuss strategies lawyers and firms can implement to change the way they do business and reach that vast untapped legal market.

    Watch the first video, “Three Factors shaking Up the Legal Marketplace,” WisBar InsideTrack, June 4, 2014.

    About Furlong’s Presentation

    Furlong presented “The Empty Courtroom? Preparing for a New World of Litigation, Dispute Resolution and Appellate Practice” at the State Bar of Wisconsin PINNACLE® Litigation, Dispute Resolution, and Appellate Practice Institute in Milwaukee last month.

    Select programs from the institute are being offered as webcast seminars. The first institute webcast is “The Disappearing Jury Trial: What Does It Mean for the Practicing Lawyer?” on June 24 and July 16, and July 23 from 8:30 to 10 a.m., 10:30 a.m. to 12:10 p.m., 1 to 2:40 p.m., 3 to 4:40 p.m. Tuition for institute webcast programs is $99 for members, and $119 for nonmembers, and is included in the cost of the Gold and Silver Ultimate Passes. The first two webcast offerings are complimentary for conference attendees.

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