So what is so special about the “new middle’ law firm pVp given that it looks like a mere re-arrangement of what is already being done within traditional law firms? While it is only a small part of the story, this re-arrangement of service offerings is a fundamental transformation at the heart of the powerful legal services re-bundling process that is underway within some law firms.
Or what is special about a mere stacking of what is already being done within the pockets of legal services innovation? In the first place, this stacking is really about both the “optimal way of organizing and allocating information resources” and the seamless integration of, and hand-off between, the layers.
While both of these perspectives are valid, we really need to explore a few more layers. As an alert reader of this blog, you may have noticed that the pVp speaks of “value” while its diagrams only reference price ($). You may also remember both the following equation:
Value = price + trust
and the challenges around trust in a complex purchasing decision.
So how does the pVp address trust? The first and largely traditional answer is that trust is created by having a recognized expert at the apex of the pyramid ensuring the quality of each of the layers below them. While this is a traditional answer insofar as this already happens within law firms that currently make use of paralegal services and IT/admin systems, what differs in the pVp is that these service layers are being made directly accessible to clients of the new middle law firm.
The second and very non-traditional answer is that the pVp transforms the underlying nature of the client lawyer relationship. If we look up “client” in the Online Etymology Dictionary, we find that its word origin is indicative of “one who leans on another for protection” (which aligns all to well with the manner in which many lawyers treat far too many clients). Under the pVp (and the BNR NDA system discussed earlier in this blog series), the client is seen as a competent and resourceful individual who is merely in need of assistance. Giving her access to the layered resources of the pVp empowers her to tackle certain matters or take them to the point where it makes sense to engage the expert.
While this model is clearly effective from a price perspective, I believe that it is even more effective from the trust perspective. The individual who has worked his way through the layers to the lawyer has become much more aware of the details and complexity of the matter at hand.
Perhaps most importantly, the new middle law firm pVp no longer sees the client as one in need of protection. Rather, the empowered, competent, and resourceful client now teams with her lawyer to address matters that require legal assistance and this team engagement fosters trust on both the client and lawyer sides. The new middle law firm pVp enables the client to evolve from a subordinate consumer of legal services provide by his lawyer to a c0-creator of legal service value with his lawyer – in other words, he is able to move
from Client to Cosumer