Just about everyone not living under a rock has heard of Groupon. Some people are huge fans of the daily deal aggregator and others, well, not so much. Regardless, I wondered if the service would be useful for a Legal Practice?
If you’re not already aware, Groupon is an online company that offers daily deals at all sorts of local businesses. Basically, on behalf of local businesses they provide a coupon for 50% – 70% off of the retail price for a good or service. After the buyer pays for the deal, Groupon sends them a coupon via email and Groupon and the participating business split the proceeds. For retailers looking for additional exposure and/or traffic, Groupon can have a dramatic affect however, one needs to be very well aware of what they are signing up for. Just try Googling “Groupon Horror Stories” to get a sample of some of their less than happy users.
But can Groupon benefit lawyers looking for more business? In my opinion, the answer (like so often) is “it depends”. It depends on the type of law that the attorney practices. I don’t see Groupon being a very good fit for a personal injury attorney who more than likely is compensated on a contingency basis however I can see it working for an Estate attorney or for Legal Entity formation (LLC’s, Corps, etc). Basic Divorce filings could work but then again, maybe not… like I said, it just depends.
For a Lawyer considering using Groupon it’s important to check with your individual State Bar rules to make sure that in fact, you can use Groupon. The North Carolina ethics committee recently decided that Groupon violates state bar rules’ prohibiting fee splitting. They believe that consumers pay a predetermined price for the Groupon offer and that the participating lawyers subsequently split that fee with Groupon, a practice that violates North Carolina’s rules. This ruling seems a little ticky tack to me but I’m part of the advertising community.
So, in conclusion, I do think that certain Law Practices could see a nice bump in business by using Groupon. I would limit that opinion to firms that charge flat fees and/or can pretty well guage what the average case will cost. In practices where the attorneys are paid on contingency or there are multiple layers of variables for each case then I think that Groupon will do more harm than good; attracting new clients at a price that you are unable to perform is a recipe for disaster.
As always, in my opinion, if a Lawyer wants more business what they really need to do is aggressively market on the internet and ensure that they have a system to capture the lead and convert that lead into an appointment… Simple as that!