The Law Management Section’s conference Rupert White mentioned a few days back was, I believe, a great success. Richard Susskind and Stephen Mayson, along with other contributors, delivered an excellent overview of the current state of and future challenges for the legal profession.

One topic I picked up on was Susskind’s analogy of legal services. From the client’s point of view, they would prefer a fence at the top of a ‘legal’ cliff rather than an ambulance at the bottom. So how can solicitors insert meaningful legal services into clients’ lives that serve as the fence and not the ambulance?

The current example would be employer’s employment law. Clients realise the value in preventing future problems by implementing good employment law practices at the outset. As many solicitors will be aware, their employment law clients, however well-prepared, often crash through the fence at the top of the cliff.

‘You’re fired! Get out!’ is a phrase I’m sure relieves a lot of stress, but lands them next to the proverbial legal ambulance at the bottom of the cliff.

Using that example as a model, what are the common services clients use, and how can a meaningful legal package be put together and sold? Clients need to see a value. Maybe a parenting agreement for people expecting a child explained at the ante-natal classes? A ‘You’ve got a new job’ guide, explaining what you should expect from an employer? A ‘Now you’re married’ pack?

People usually buy travel insurance before a holiday because they see the need to avoid medical bills abroad, and it’s made easy by tour companies and high-profile insurance services.

This is particularly tricky thinking for lawyers, but is something that needs immediate attention. The new legal services providers are already mixing it up by offering packages of identify theft protection services. How can your firm, or your department, proactively help clients avoid future problems with a simple, valuable service – and a service where you make a profit?