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How Self-Help Forms Can Help You Gain, Not Lose, New Clients

Business people negotiating a contract. Human hands working with documents at desk and signing contract.
By Laura Temme, Esq. | Last updated on
One of the most amazing things about living in the world today is having a wealth of information right at your fingertips. This can be annoying for legal professionals who, more and more often, are encountering clients who think their Google search can replace a professional degree. However, although it might seem counterintuitive, attorneys can use forms to leverage new business.

Use of Forms On the Rise

Most people encounter the legal system on the civil side. Whether they face a divorce, eviction, or a business dispute, they need guidance – but there’s no guarantee they’ll have a lawyer. And when they don't, a straightforward case can quickly become a significant drain on a court’s time and resources. However, many people have a hard time justifying the expense of legal services. In fact, the number of self-represented litigants has risen to what some deem "crisis" levels. To combat this, many state court systems and even bar associations have begun offering legal self-help services. In addition to pro-bono consultations, one of the greatest assets in the self-help arsenal is forms. A quick internet search turns up thousands of results, and their availability has many lawyers concerned.

How Attorneys Can Leverage Forms

Since forms are unlikely to go away, attorneys may want to consider finding ways to leverage them in their business. Rather than lamenting the change, they can instead use forms to gain new clients. A few was to do this include:

Workshops

Holding a workshop for potential clients where you explain when certain forms might be appropriate can help clients understand when they need a lawyer. Workshops are also an excellent opportunity to discuss what can go wrong when someone uses a generic form found online.

Assessment services

Even if someone does most of the work using a form, they might be willing to pay for the peace of mind that comes with having it reviewed by an attorney.

Subscription services

Some clients might be open to an arrangement where they can receive ongoing form review services. If they use a form contract in their business, for example, an attorney can give personalized advice for different scenarios and answer questions. If someone is looking to save money, the advice that they should never use a form likely won't foster an ongoing relationship. Instead, embracing these tools can help a solo or small practice stand out.

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