Is the Subscription Based Law Firm Model Ethical?

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For the past two months, we’ve been blogging about how a law firm could possibly transition to a subscription based revenue model.  However, as lawyers we are ethically bound to deliver legal services for a fair and reasonable fee.  Is a subscription based model ethical?
if you are considering a subscription based revenue model, you must think outside the proverbial box, so to speak. Let’s consider ABA Model Rule 1.5 which, in a nutshell states, “A lawyer shall not make an agreement for, charge, or collect an unreasonable fee.” Accordingly, although not tested yet by a bar association or law society, if the subscription monthly fee is outside the normal fee range for similarly situated lawyers delivering substantially similar legal services, could a subscription fee in total be unreasonable?

To lessen this concern, consider bundling in membership benefits as well. For example: a dedicated, members only, newsletter with poignant topics written by you and your team, live video/webinar content discussing monthly topics that are “in the news”, and/or touch upon peripheral issues and deliver meaningful information via regular emails (using services like MailChimp® or Constant Contact®), etc.

By way of example, if you’re a firm that practices employment law, perhaps have guest webinar presenters that touch upon complementary disciplines like H.R. issues or how to prevent discrimination in the workplace before it becomes a legal issue. There is true value in including both complimentary guest presentations and/or offering preventative advice. In other words, deliver legal advice via modern, non-traditional delivery methods.

And, while we are on the topic of ethics, if you choose to introduce a subscription revenue model in your firm, balance out the revenue benefits with the obligation to deliver a service and price these services in accordance with the Model Rules and/or Rules of Professional Responsibility in your jurisdiction. You may even want to discuss your new business model with a lawyer who specializes in legal ethics in your state or province before introducing the product to your clients and your community.
 

For more on the recurring revenue model for law firms, watch for more blogs in this series by Affinity Partner Steven J. Best - and sign up for our first webinar of 2019 Members Only Law Firm? Is recurring revenue right for you and your clients?

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Read the first two blog posts in this series:


Steve Best

Written by Steve Best

Steve is a Partner with Affinity and a member of both the Florida and Georgia bars. Steve leverages his passion for technology, along with his knowledge in the practice of law to help his clients make their firms and departments more productive. Steve specifically focuses on the areas of document management and time, billing and accounting.

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