Services & Pricing

Why a Subscription is Your Ticket to a More Profitable Practice

Subscriptions are EVERYWHERE these days! Cable, beauty, fitness, music, fashion, you name it.It seems like every industry has discovered the benefits that subscriptions provide . . . every industry except for legal that is. This shouldn’t be too surprising since the legal industry has traditionally been slow to change.

I recently had an opportunity to discuss subscription fees with co-presenter and OPLN member Robert Alexander from Vanguard Advocates, LLP and host Kory Kelly on this episode of the Legal Karma podcast. Rob and I were excited to receive the invite. We are both strong ambassadors for subscription services because they are a win-win for legal consumers and attorneys. We’ll dig into that more in a minute. First, I want to talk about the two ways I’ve seen attorneys use subscriptions.

Attorneys can create a subscription and use it as a fee arrangement or as a service. Rob and other attorneys associated with The Chicago Bar Foundation Justice Entrepreneurs Project who have litigation heavy practices have found great value in subscription fee arrangements. They charge a set monthly fee, or subscription fee, for the case. Sometimes the subscription fee is paired with a flat up-front fee to get the case started. The client pays the monthly subscription fee until the conclusion of the case. Sometimes the monthly fee includes full representation, and other times it’s limited scope representation depending on the case. For example, a family law attorney might charge a subscription fee but limit the scope of the representation to issues currently presented. If additional issues arise, the engagement agreement change order provision will trigger a conversation between the attorney and client and adjustments will be made to the price and a new agreement will be signed.

Clients love a subscription fee arrangement because it provides transparency and predictability. When an attorney quotes a set monthly fee, a legal consumer can understand exactly how much they are paying each month and what value they will receive in return. In short, they can finally understand the value proposition, something that lawyers who bill by the hour fail to achieve. And once the legal consumer understands the value proposition and sees a set price, it’s usually a done deal.

Attorneys love subscription fee arrangements as well. Set monthly fees improve cash flow and make budgeting easier. Subscription fee arrangements also improve client acquisition. Clients who understand and appreciate your value proposition will spread the word to others, and before you know it, your phone will be ringing consistently and you’ll have to spend less time (or no time!) on client acquisition. Now I know what some of you are thinking, if I charge a set monthly fee, how am I going to handle all those clients who take advantage of it and call me nonstop? If you do a good job with client intake and screening and setting expectations and you include the right provisions in your engagement agreement, you won’t have this problem.

Now let’s turn to the second way I’ve seen attorneys use subscriptions – as a service. In my opinion, this is where the real fun begins. With a subscription as service, there is tremendous opportunity for attorneys to be creative about delivering value. What is a subscription service? It’s how we consume so many things these days. For me, it’s fitness. I used to have a gym membership but ditched it because I wasn’t going enough. I replaced it with a Peloton subscription. No, I don’t have a Peloton bike. Instead, I have a regular bike that sits on a bike trainer and I use the Peloton app to attend spin and yoga classes from the comfort of my own home. I like the app because it’s convenient, cost-effective and helps me solve my fitness problem.

Legal consumers also want options that are convenient, cost-effective, and solve their legal problems. As you think about what your clients value and need, ask yourself if there is a way to deliver at least some of the value, or ideally all of it, by creating valuable content that the client can consume without you. Put another way, can you create a service that does not require a one-to-one relationship with each client who uses it and that can instead be used by many clients at the same time, ideally with no or minimal involvement on your end after the initial creation of the content? If you can accomplish this, you will be on your way to creating profit in your sleep and developing a more sustainable practice and lifestyle.

Interested in learning more about subscriptions and/or pricing more generally? Subscribe to our e-newsletter and we’ll notify you when our Legal Pricing Law launches this summer.