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Did you know there is more to practicelaw than just forms?  practicelaw is designed to be a repository of resources intended to help your practice.  Similarly, the MSBA’s practiceblawg is a blog for the Association to share with you how the MSBA can help you improve your efficiency and grow your practice.  The MSBA offers members a number of products and services and is always looking for ways to better serve its members and provide greater value.

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The Bar! What is it good for?

by Joe Kaczrowski | Oct 16, 2015

Absolutely nothing? That sentiment seems to apply on a couple of levels. First with society generally and the emergence of new players like LegalZoom and LLLTs, the need for lawyers is often called into question. And second, are bar associations relevant to the practice of law today?

The MSBA recently announced the formation of a task force to explore the former, the Alternative Legal Models Task Force (statements of interest are due November 2). The MSBA also recently announced the formation of a Technology Committee to "to keep current on changing technology and determine how the MSBA can best assist its members to stay at the forefront of these changes" (statements of interest due in this case on November 9).

The Solo and Small Firm Section hosted a CLE yesterday on dealing with pro se litigants, which included comments from the perspective of both opposing counsel and the bench. Among the many discussion points was that many pro se litigants often consult, to a degree, with an attorney. For the most part, these consultations are extremely limited, where the attorney may sell an hour of his or her time to talk about whatever the client wants. There are a number of tech companies out there offering similar services, including Rocket Lawyer, which recently partnered with the ABA to launch a cloud-based platform to provide brief legal advice to small businesses.

With these and other resources available on the internet, like the court's own forms and self-help resources, what is the role of lawyers? While that may seem obvious to an attorney, potential clients may consider that a valid question. As with any service provider, it ultimately becomes a matter of marketing and selling your services. How you choose to do that is a strategic decision, although the current thinking generally favors a client-centric approach. You aren't selling a product or a service, but rather a solution. As an earlier post discussed, "No one goes to Home Depot to buy a shovel; they go because they need a hole in the ground." As a lawyer, you differentiate yourself from the plethora of options by changing the conversation from price to how you can work together to solve their problem.

The second part of the relevance question relates to the MSBA and associations in general. Are they relevant to the practice of law today? What value do they offer? If you look back at issues of Bench & Bar for the last year plus, you will find a number of President's Pages on this topic. When the question of value is discussed, topics like practice tools and resources, community, and advocacy are thrown about. The MSBA is many things to many people. In addition to offering a number of tools and resources (including Fastcase, practicelaw, listservs, mndocs, blogs, MN Find a Lawyer, and the Colleague Directory), the Association strives to be a thought leader and a forum for discussion of issues and challenges facing the legal community, technology being one example. 

The MSBA's tech conference next month (November 5) is one opportunity to learn more about practice tools and resources available through your bar association. But it also is an opportunity to get together with other professionals in the legal community to discuss issues facing the profession, like rapidly changing technology and new court systems and rules of professional conduct. If you haven't already registered, you can save $10 off your registration now through Sunday by using the discount code TS10MEA.

Want to join the conversation? Register for the tech conference and/or join the new task force or committee.