By Claudia King, CEO + Founder
If you own a law firm, you need to be creating and leveraging intellectual property - these are the two words that will increase your firm's revenue more than anything else.
Your intellectual property (IP) isn’t just trademarks and patents, it is all the stuff that enables you to help people AND makes you money. This is about monetising your most valuable assets like your hard-earned knowledge, your special skills, your crazy passions, your unfair advantage, your brilliant content - it’s your unique combo of these things that is your special sauce. This is the lifeblood of your law firm. If you’re not sure what that is, you need to find out.
Law firms that are monetising their IP are actively looking at the hidden gold in their firms and creating solutions they can sell over and over again. That is the mark of intellectual property - you work hard once to create it, and make thousands (or millions) from it without doing the work repeatedly. You know you’re not going to scale your law firm from helping your clients with 1-on-1 bespoke legal services, there just aren’t enough hours in the day.
Thankfully, the internet provides a huge amount of opportunity to generate new revenue streams. Legal professionals looking to technology are capitalising on their IP. They are turning their IP into online legal solutions that can be sold to their current client base, and beyond. Do the same and you’ve just freed yourself from the billable hour.
To work out what valuable IP you have and how you can make money from it, here are some questions to ask yourself:
What are your skills?
Hint: think legal skills and skills outside of legal.
What are your passions?
Hint: again, think inside and outside the legal industry. What can you rant about for over 10 minutes?
Who is your ideal client?
Hint: look closely at your skills and passions when you answer this, and be specific - niche down and then niche down again - as they say, the riches are in the niches.
What are your ideal client’s frustrations, fears, wants and aspirations?
Hint: if you’re unsure about this, go chat to an ideal client. In addition to what they say, take note of their body language as they speak, what they’re wearing, who they take calls from during your meeting and how they deal with those calls, their mood when they arrive - all this will give you a better understanding of your ideal client’s biggest fears and frustrations.
How can your skills and passions solve your ideal client’s problems?
Hint: look at their fears and frustrations and think about how your skills and passions to help them achieve their wants and aspirations. This could also include packaging in the services of someone else who has expertise you don’t have but which your ideal client needs, in addition to your expertise.
What IP do you already have that can solve your ideal client’s problems?
Hint: think about what you’ve got in terms of blog posts, articles, guides, manuals, advice, letters, emails, documents, contracts, templates, forms, policies, procedures, books, whitepapers, methods, processes etc. You may also have processes in your mind that you use to coach clients with - these processes can be extremely valuable too.
How can you create an innovative online legal solution to solve your ideal client’s problems that leverages your IP?
Hint: think creatively about the different ways you can deliver an online legal solution - and remember, you can package in non-legal specific benefits too:
1. Create a subscription service where your ideal clients pay you a monthly fee to get access to resources that solve their problems and a certain number of hours of specific help from you. For example, you love tech and helping tech entrepreneurs, so you create a subscription service for tech startup founders where you provide access to a suite of automated capital raising documents, employment documents, terms and conditions etc, plus 1 hour of your time per month to review documents, plus you throw in the 3 favourite business books for tech entrepreneurs that you’ve read. Oh, and you know a business consultant who is a gun at creating pitch decks for capital raising so you include a consultation with her too.
2. Create an online legal service where your client pays you a one-off fee. For example, you’re skilled at and passionate about helping first home buyers. So you create an online legal service that includes you doing their usual conveyancing legal work as well as you getting involved at the start of the home buying process and help them with their mortgage, valuer, building inspector etc, and doing Wills and EPAs. Plus they get access to a range of helpful resources for first home buyers (ones you write yourself with language your ideal clients will love, not downloaded from the Law Society’s website). So much of the service delivery can be automated, and you can have different service tiers so you can offer basic and more comprehensive versions of the service.
3. Create an online legal technology solution. Many lawyers have clients can’t stand all the repeat documentation they have to deal with - so why not help them with that using your valuable legal tech skills you love using. Design and build legal bots for them so they can spend minutes on drafting documentation instead of hours, and then maintain the legal bots by keeping them up to date with law changes for a monthly fee.
4. Create an online legal product and sell it for a one-off fee. This is where you sell something with no legal services included, like automated, customised HR policies and procedures created by a legal bot, online wills, e-books and legal help guides.
Looking at your IP provides infinite possibilities to scale your law firm, like:
You can help 5 clients or 500 clients with the same legal solution. Or 5,000 - now this is making an impact on the world.
The price and what is included is stated upfront - you don’t need to spend as much time explaining things and dealing with tire kickers.
You can promote an online legal solution using all types of digital marketing where you can measure your ROI - webinars, content marketing, email marketing and SEO. You don’t need to rely on referrals and networking.
You can sell to anyone in your jurisdiction or even the whole world - you’re not limited to people living in your town or city.
Find out how you can turn your labour into an online legal solution so you can earn revenue while you sleep. Nothing will contribute to your law firm’s bottom line in a greater way than figuring that out.
To discover more about turning your IP into online legal solutions, join our Savvy Lawyers Facebook group. This is a community of entrepreneurial lawyers who are leveraging their IP to make money while they sleep.