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Did you know there is more to practicelaw than just forms?  practicelaw is designed to be a repository of resources intended to help your practice.  Similarly, the MSBA’s practiceblawg is a blog for the Association to share with you how the MSBA can help you improve your efficiency and grow your practice.  The MSBA offers members a number of products and services and is always looking for ways to better serve its members and provide greater value.

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What's good for the goose

by Joe Kaczrowski | Sep 15, 2015

According to Rule 6.1, every lawyer has a professional responsibility to provide legal services to those unable to pay, and a lawyer should aspire to render at least 50 hours of pro bono publico legal services per year. There are a number of programs available through the state bar association and other organizations that provide a variety of opportunities for Minnesota attorneys to meet this aspirational standard. New developments in legal technology further aid these organizations in assisting lawyers with their pro bono obligations.

Many organizations like VLN, SMRLS and Wills for Heroes take advantage of tools like HotDocs to automate the drafting process, making it easier for attorneys to represent those in need. By reducing process time for these tasks, the valuable and limited time of volunteer attorneys can be focused on areas where it can have the greatest effect.

Programs like MLAO go another direction, offering unbundled or (extremely) limited representation options. MLAO provides an exchange where those in need can get legal advice from volunteer attorneys who can answer questions at their convenience without committing to full representation in a matter.

Technology helps these programs and their volunteer attorneys provide assistance to those in need of legal services, and makes it even easier for attorneys to meet the standard set in Rule 6.1. But these programs, which are often asked to work with extremely limited budgets, also provide some insight for attorneys looking for ways to become more competitive or to explore additional revenue streams.

The same technologies that help these programs provide free legal services to those in need also can be used by attorneys to reduce their costs and reach new markets. Document assembly tools built on the HotDocs platform, like the MSBA’s mndocs, offer process efficiency through automation and saved answer files. Similar to MLAO, companies like Avvo.com and Rocket Lawyer have developed marketplaces where lawyers and consumers can connect for the purchase/sale of legal advice. Companies like Citasca are emerging with additional ways for attorneys to generate revenue from their work product and knowledge.

Pro bono work offers lawyers a great way to gain experience and give back to their communities, but attorneys also can glean additional benefit by contemplating how technologies used for pro bono work can be applied to and implemented in their practices to improve efficiency and generate more revenue.