In a still flaccid economy where high-end niche differentiation has become a Quixotic proposition, “Commoditized Legal Services” seem increasingly the order of the day. And when that happens, watch out – – – as one flat fee or unbundled service or online do-it-yourself maneuver predictably evolves into law firms willing to give it away for free.
One law firm in Nevada already advertises “Free Answers to Legal Questions” and states on its website: “You have questions? We have answers. Legal answers should be free. You deserve to have your questions taken seriously and answered in person. Meet with us today!”
The firm even promotes “Every Wednesday is Walk in Wednesday. Just walk in, no appointment necessary.”
But beyond such promotional come-ons, it will be a race to the price bottom. For example, see my prior blog post, “Race to bottom accelerates as discount lawyers respond to economy ….” Also see “Changes Coming to the Way Lawyers Do Business.”
The British firm making the free divorce offer is Follett Stock Solicitors and it should come as little surprise that this promotion comes from the same country that has also given U.K. consumers and lawyers, The Legal Services Act.
But any firm that has a “Humour“ category on its website, can’t be bad. And it’s a good thing Follett Stock has a sense of humor, too, since “Religious Leaders Object to Law Firm’s Free Divorce Offer.”
As announced on its own website at “Free Divorce!”, the offer works like this. It’s for a limited time and it’s only offered out of two offices. And unless they are exempt, the clients pay all court costs.
But here’s the biggest ‘catch.’ The offer only applies to uncontested divorces. Consequently, it’s easy to understand the business cost vs. free publicity trade-off the firm undertook, as it actually isn’t as economically painful as it first seems. The really ugly, drawn-out and expensive marital dissolutions are the contested ones over property, finances, businesses and the most acrimonious of all, child custody. And the freebie divorce offer doesn’t apply to any of that.
On its site, the firm explains, “The offer does not include defended divorce proceedings, sorting out the finances or the arrangements for your children, tracing your spouse or obtaining lost documents but you can instruct us in relation to any of these on a fee paying basis if you wish.” The deadline to sign up is today, June 30, 2011.
Given the limitations and contained business risk, I wouldn’t be surprised if some U.S. law firms don’t copy this clever bit of guerrilla marketing. Think of the free publicity, even if they have to suffer some heat from the ‘family values crowd‘ and the Church.