Is Walmart Targeting Your Law Firm? What Alternative Business Structures Will Mean for Small Firms

Small law firms generally have it pretty good, in that they’ve mostly had to compete only against other small law firms that aren’t particularly innovative either, and that also don’t spend money aggressively to build their businesses.  Now, over the course of time, cracks have been made in that armor, as organizations like LegalZoom have addressed services for legal consumers in an entirely different way – by focusing on products (document delivery), at more cost-effective prices than most law firms are willing to offer.  And even if those law firms have access to the technology needed to accommodate that approach, they can’t or won’t adopt it.

But, that’s all just an initial volley in the coming clash between small law firms and legal service providers.

Lawyers have always been protected against other business owners infiltrating their territory by the existence of ethics rules banning lawyers from sharing fees with non-lawyers, effectively barring business partnerships between lawyers and non-lawyers.  But that wall has been breached because at least two states (Arizona and Utah) have removed or circumvented the rules around fee sharing, non-lawyer management and multidisciplinary practices (offering legal services and other services via a single business), which opens the door for alternative business structures (‘ABS’) = actual business partnerships between lawyers and non-lawyers.

Where ABS ends up being allowed, attorney and non-attorney business owners can work together and share revenue.  So, yes: Walmart can open law firms.

That’s a whole new ballgame.

So what can small law firm owners do as ABS continues to encroach on traditional practices?

Listen to this podcast, to learn more:

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It’s probably not a bad idea to modernize your law firm practices anyway; and, we can help.

The Wyoming State Bar offers free law practice management consulting services through Red Cave Law Firm Consulting.

To request a consult, visit the Wyoming State Bar’s law practice management page, and start running your law firm like a business.

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