Please note that all online divorce platforms are not the same. Much of the content below does not apply to BlissDivorce. BlissDivorce is the only complete online divorce solution, including property division, child custody, spousal support, and AI-powered Digital Divorce Mediation.
The internet has revolutionized every aspect of our lives, including divorce. In the past, people had no choice but to seek legal professionals and wait for their cases to be processed to get a divorce.
Now, separating couples are looking for ways to simplify and speed up their divorce process. The interest in online divorce services is increasing. This is because it provides a faster and less expensive way to get divorced.
Online divorce has changed the way Americans separate. But what is the impact of online divorce on small law firms and solo practitioners?
Read on to find out how it influenced their work and what they need to adjust to keep up with the benefits of online divorce.
Difference Between Online Divorce Services, Solo Practitioners, and Small Law Firms
Many people confuse solo practitioners with small law firms when seeking legal help. First, you must get familiar with the types of law firms. It will help you better understand online divorce’s impact on small law firms and solo practitioners.
What is considered a small law firm?
A small law firm in the US has between two and 50 attorneys. They are also called “boutique” law firms. Generally, they represent their clients on a broader range of legal topics.
What is a solo practitioner?
Solo practitioners practice law independently. They are typically more affordable than their larger legal counterparts. Additionally, solo practitioners are more adaptable and provide one-on-one attention to their clients.
What is an online divorce service?
Online divorce services offer a specially designed platform. You can handle every aspect of your divorce from beginning to end. They provide flexibility, can reduce stress, and make the negotiation process easier.
Most online divorce services, like BlissDivorce, will also fill out your paperwork and file it with the court.
The Impact of Online Divorce on Small Law Firms and Solo Practitioners
Online divorce is great news for people trying to divorce. However, it significantly impacts small law firms and solo practitioners.
Online divorce has affected the legal industry on many levels. It started by reducing the demand for traditional divorce attorneys and ended by forcing them to change how they work.
Impact on client’s expectations
First, we will start with the impact of online divorce on small law firms and solo practitioners regarding the client’s expectations.
According to Clio’s Legal Trends Report for Solo Law Firms, client expectations for small law firms and solo practitioners have changed in the past few years.
Before the invention of online divorce services, the client’s expectations for small law firms and solo practitioners were more behavioral and knowledge-based.
Generally, the expectations for their legal representatives were:
- Active participation in cases
- Respecting deadlines
- Explaining dilemmas
- Obeying court orders
- Providing all the required documentation
However, the pandemic hit, and the popularity of online divorces increased. The impact of online divorces on small law firms and solo practitioners was felt in the client’s expectations.
Now, divorcing couples are focusing on their overall experience. Mainly, the expectations are to have a simple, fast, and fair divorce.
To achieve that, clients expect their small law firms and solo practitioners to involve more technology in their practice.
Almost 70% of divorcing couples want to work with a legal representative who has digitized and automated services. It will give them easy access to their documentation and the progress of their case.
Most importantly, clients prefer cloud computing for maximized safety.
Luckily, 70% of the 2022 ABA Legal Technology Survey Report respondents reported using cloud services.
Impact on the way of work
Small law firms and solo practitioners need technology adoption to keep up with the attractiveness of online divorce services.
The ABA Tech Report 2022 shows concerning statistics regarding technology usage in different law firm types.
Only 20% of small law firms between two and nine lawyers have the option to schedule a consultation on their website. The number of solo practitioners offering online scheduling is even lower, only 14%.
Customers prefer an online portal with effective electronic document management. Most divorcing couples want to have the following features on display.
- Uploading documents – income tax returns, proof of income, debts, assets, property valuations, etc.
- Overview of the divorce progress – what issues are resolved and how many remain.
- Online negotiating tools – for deciding on alimony, parenting plan, and schedule, property division, etc.
- Using electronic signatures – for a fast, easy, and convenient way to sign the paperwork.
- Online payment options – with various methods accepted and options to slip the costs.
Also, lawyers must change their daily tasks according to client needs. Flexibility, availability, and professionalism are the top three preferences of divorcing couples.
Specifically, small law firms and solo practitioners should be more open about a few thousand dollars for online divorce services video conferencing. Whether it is for a consultation or for follow-up meetings, clients want to have flexibility.
Impact on revenue streams
There is an impact of online divorce on small law firms and solo practitioners from a financial perspective as well.
Small law firms started losing potential revenue streams. The main reason for this was the reduced demand for traditional legal services for divorce. Many couples opt to complete their divorce without a lawyer.
Separating couples started choosing an online divorce service to cope with the drastic differences in pricing. Hence, some small law firms and solo practitioners noticed decreased revenue coming from the lack of divorce cases.
Online divorce services usually charge a one-off fee. On the other hand, divorce attorneys mostly charge by the hour.
To illustrate, if you want to get a divorce, you will have to pay just a few thousand dollars for online divorce services. Conversely, a typical divorce attorney can empty your wallet from $15,000 to $30,000.
On the contrary, implementing solutions like client portals and electronic payments into their practice, like the ones online divorce services have, can help them earn approximately $50,000 more.
Impact on marketing strategy
The emergence of online divorce services has disturbed the marketing strategies of small law firms and solo practitioners.
Online divorce services focus all of their jobs online. The entire workflow depends on the marketing strategy. Online divorce platforms use different methods to bring in new clients.
Small law firms and solo practitioners have limited access to employees and time. Most of them struggle to create a successful marketing strategy.
As per the Websites and Marketing, only 11% of small law firms have an internal marketing staff managing their website. Understandably, dealing with short staff and not having a specific marketing strategy makes them fall behind the online divorce services.
Impact on the need for legal advice
The one thing that online divorce hasn’t influenced is the need for legal advice. Online divorce services only offer navigation throughout the process, document preparation, and mediation.
Online mediation offers tools to solve disputes; it doesn’t provide legal advice. The way mediators and lawyers approach the divorce process is entirely different.
Mediators are responsible for motivating both parties to speak freely and honestly. Their job is to find a fair solution to the dispute accepted by the spouses.
Simply put, mediators are third parties ensuring you are communicating and making progress. Lawyers, on the other hand, are biased and might help you reach a settlement in your favor, but at a high cost.
With more Americans understanding the benefits of mediation, they tend to choose this option instead of hiring a lawyer. It is one way to make your divorce more peaceful and end the marriage on good terms.
In recent years, many changes have been recorded in the work of small law firms and solo practitioners. Online divorce services have an impact on small law firms and sole practitioners to change how they work. They do this by offering more affordable and faster ways to get divorced.
The competition in the legal industry handling divorce cases is growing. But one thing stays the same – the client’s needs should be the number one priority.
Thus, each online service provider and law firm should be open to making changes. Adaptation, innovation, and professionalism are the three essentials for satisfied customers.
The impact of online divorce on small law firms and solo practitioners is felt on several levels, including the need to diversify services to meet new client expectations.