June 20th, 2018
I was recently asked to be a featured speaker in the Maryland State Bar Association’s Thought Leader series as part of their Legal Summit and Annual Meeting, held this year in Ocean City, Maryland. Their legal summit and annual meeting is open to their state bar, a group of 24,000 Maryland attorneys. I was asked to present on a topic of my choosing.
After polling hundreds of Seattle based attorneys on a variety of topics to determine their biggest concerns regarding the legal marketplace as well as their largest struggles, I decided to present on the topic of market disruption in the legal industry.
Shortly after being asked to participate, I was contacted by The Daily Record, Maryland’s “trusted source of business, legal, and government news for 131 years” who, after my interview, ran a preview of my presentation:
“With clients increasingly weary of the billable-hour model and the influx of online legal service providers, attorney and entrepreneur Heather Pearce Campbell wants to see lawyers rethink their approach to the business.” Read the rest of the article here.
Market disruption in the legal industry is a big topic. There is a lot to unpack around why the industry operates as it does, why there is such a tremendous gap in the legal marketplace where vast swaths of individuals and businesses are not able to get their legal needs addressed (by the traditional legal industry), and how to respond to the changing landscape in a way that helps support a sustainable legal practice while also meeting the needs of clients.
So this is what I presented on.
I care tremendously about my clients. About entrepreneurs, small businesses, and individuals that have unmet legal needs. And I care tremendously about attorneys. While some in the legal field (as is true in any field) have earned their poor reputation, most attorneys are hard working, service-oriented types that like to solve problems for others, including those in need. And, contrary to public belief, a significant percentage of attorneys struggle to maintain a successful practice: one that covers its costs, provides a decent living, and is able to attract and sustain a steady flow of clients. Across most states, 50% (or more) of attorneys are sole practitioners, working to serve segments of the marketplace that really need help and at lower costs. But I believe that there is a tremendous opportunity, for attorneys who are willing to really dig in to the needs of the marketplace, to create new services and products that not only meet the needs of their clients (who need services at lower costs and delivered in unique ways), but that also help to create a more sustainable legal practice.
It is a conversation that I love and a topic that should be front and center for every attorney that is not situated in a large firm with a steady flow of clients (which is a smaller percentage of the market than most realize).
Back to Ocean City, Maryland: It was a great trip, though a bit of a whirlwind! (Traveling across the country with my 10 month old, to an area that just 24 hours prior was experiencing severe flooding. Luckily my sister jumped on board to travel with us and take care of my little munchkin while I was presenting). #momlife
The good news is that my munchkin traveled like a champ (although she never slept or sat still, for even 1 minute on both 5-hour flights coming and going!), time with my sister was amazing, and of course I loved being able to connect with so many amazing attorneys, working hard to serve their clients and manage their legal practices in a way that is sustainable instead of stressful. One of the highlights was visiting a local restaurant with rave reviews where we had Maryland crabcakes and a few moments of calm, even with a baby in tow!
Thank you to the MSBA for a fabulous trip, and a terrific opportunity to support other amazing attorneys doing tremendous work in the world.