November 21, 2016
IN THE NEWS: Avvo, LegalZoom Execs Tell ISBA Legal Services Delivery Must Change
Avvo, LegalZoom Execs Tell ISBA Legal Services Delivery Must Change From: The Indiana Lawyer, October 5, 2016 LegalZoom Chief Executive Officer John Suh told a gathering of Indiana lawyers Sept. 29 that solo and small firms whose practices in many cases have struggled for decades may be facing existential challenges, but they shouldn’t blame the internet.
“It’s getting to an unsustainable level,” Suh said of plummeting workloads and declining average incomes of small-firm and solo attorneys. … He explained that in his home state of California, about 1 percent of litigants in divorce cases were unrepresented by legal counsel in the early 1970s. Today, that figure has soared to 67 percent despite a doubling of lawyers during that time. Meanwhile, he said solo lawyers nationwide have seen their salaries plummet from about $71,000 in the early ’70s to around $49,000 in real terms in recent years.
The largest provider of online legal forms, LegalZoom is making a bold and controversial push into the legal industry itself, as is internet competitor Avvo, which compiles data and rankings for lawyers. Suh said he envisioned a day in the near-future when 100 percent of what LegalZoom does is deliver the services of lawyers to consumers online.
Such a transition would require the company to do business with attorneys in Indiana to offer legal services in the state, he said. … [Avvo Chief Legal Officer Josh] King said the legal industry has simply failed to adapt to changing times and expectations. … King said risk-averse lawyers have let fear of rule violations stand in the way of things such as offering and advertising a suite of standard services at a fixed cost. For legal consumers and the general public, he said legal service “remains in 2016 frustratingly hard to access.”