There’s A Reason They Call It Legal Services…

May 5, 2014

“$99 Wills”, the headlines scream. They have not come to Thunder Bay yet, but soon, perhaps.

What’s the catch? Simple – these low prices reflect the view that legal services are commodities or consumer goods. And even more – that they are all the same.

At Weilers, our clients are not merely statistics, or “files”. They are the people who ensure our ongoing success, today and in the future. We are not interested in “putting through” as many wills and real estate deals as possible, but rather in developing relationships, in understanding what is important to our clients, so that we can continue to provide the services our clients have come to expect from us, and through our reputation, develop new client relationships.

Will kits have been around for decades; on-line services are increasing, and firm billing practices have evolved in many cases to respond to client concerns about fees, and budgeting. These efforts have had mixed success.

Other approaches have been tried. In the 1980’s, a chain of law firms sprung up in shopping malls across the country. They offered “simple” legal services – straightforward wills, uncontested divorces, real estate services – all at bargain basement prices. That chain didn’t survive.

More recently, a new concept has emerged – legal services available at a major department store chain, so you can get your hardware, haircuts, passport photos and powers of attorney all under one roof. This suggests that a lawyer meeting with clients after 5 is a new idea except Weilers has been doing it since 1946 to accommodate the schedule of many working people. And as we are fond of saying “life isn’t 9 to 5”, many of our lawyers, like most business people, are often in touch with their clients 24/7, through cell phones and social media.

There are some legal services which can be provided without the support of a large staff, expensive boardrooms, state-of-the-art technology or the culture of large firm life. The difficulty, however, is that clients cannot always know what they need.

There is a key difference between a matter which is a “simple” one and one which just looks simple. We all know of people who have visited a doctor’s office with a “small pain”, and have emerged with a significant diagnosis, and a complex, life-changing treatment plan. If they had visited a doctor who deals exclusively in “small pains”, would their condition have been correctly diagnosed?

There is, indeed, a reason they call it legal services. Whether you need a “simple will” or a team of professionals to design a complex litigation plan, you want to know that the law firm you engage can assess the nature of your legal issues, and ensure that you receive the correct service – at the best possible price.

At Weilers, we attempt to strike this balance in a number of ways:

  • by arranging to meet our clients where they want – often in their own homes or places of business
  • by arranging to meet our clients when they want – including after hours and weekends
  • by ensuring that our clients are matched to the lawyers who are best equipped to address their needs – at the lowest possible rates
  • by developing budgets and cost estimates, and flexible payment arrangements, where appropriate – to allow clients to retain control over their legal costs
  • by providing a variety of “value-added” services – like free document notarization for existing individual clients and in-house training for existing corporate clients, in many cases
  • by continuously striving to develop strategies to help our clients access our services – such as our Saturday Walk-in Wills Clinic.

Unlike some of the large department store chains, the founders of Weiler, Maloney, Nelson have also believed in investing in our community. Over the past 65 years, the firm has lead by example in making contributions to health care, educational, social services and all manner of community organizations – both in monetary form, time commitment or service on various community boards. Simply put, we believe in Thunder Bay, and are proud to contribute to this fine community we call home.

We are interested in suggestions our clients have which might improve access to affordable legal services. Please, let us know what we can do to improve our relationship with you.