On this blog, we often refer to clients as legal consumers. Clients who are paying for services provided by attorneys are consumers of legal services. Hence the term “legal consumers.” Inherent in that terminology is the concept that the legal industry is indeed a marketplace. Perhaps it should be approached as one.
The medical field has begun a trend that has existed in the legal field for some time. The March 2014 edition of the AARP Bulletin reports on doctors bidding for surgeries in an article titled Now You Can Get Bids for Surgery. According to the article, there is a website called MediBid.com where doctors and facilities can bid for patient services. The article notes that MediBid advises patients to research the doctors bidding on services just as they would any potential new provider.
Of particular interest is what MediBid’s chief financial officer, Chris Hobbs, said about the benefit of patients acting like consumers:
When patients start to behave like consumers, prices come down.
Can the same be said of the legal arena? When clients start to behave like consumers, will legal prices come down? We believe so.
While there are a number of bidding sites for legal services, and there have been for some time (see Susan Cartier Liebel’s post Will Legal Services Bidding Sites Gain (Real) Traction?), it has not become commonplace. But regardless of whether clients use bidding sites to obtain cost conscious legal services or employ other methods, perhaps there is wisdom in Mr. Hobbs’ statement.
Perhaps when clients think like consumers, they will approach the legal arena in a capitalist frame of mind, constantly assessing the cost/benefit of the legal matter and all steps along the way. And perhaps by thinking like consumers, clients will be better equipped to interact with their attorneys on a more level playing field. And a level playing field is key to a positive and mutually beneficial attorney/client relationship.
You’ve got options. The Center for Legal Practice Reform can help you navigate the attorney/client relationship and level the playing field. Call LPR today for a free consultation – (301) 351-7970.