Axiom: A LegalZoom for In-House? Blame BigLaw
Many have said that startups like LegalZoom.com are "disruptors" of the legal industry. That label, which is about as played out as "cyber-__" is overused, and some might say, misapplied in the LegalZoom context. Sam Glover, over at Lawyerist, points out that legal form distributors and prepaid legal services have been around forever. LegalZoom just tossed it onto the Internet (and added some damn good marketing).
He has a great point. We'd wonder what he'd think of Axiom Law. This not-law firm legal service provider, with the equally clichéd slogan "law redefined" promises to "do legal work efficiently." It wouldn't be difficult to mistake the LLC for a law firm based on its marketing.
Or based on its services.
The folks at Axiom "do legal work efficiently" for "clients" and claim that they are a "modern interpretation of a law firm." The eLawyering Blog looked further into what Axiom does, and concluded that it's a really well-funded legal services provider for General Counsels' offices.
In other words, a LegalZoom for in-house.
In addition to handling outsourced work or "projects" for in-house attorneys, Axiom also handles staffing agency duties by assigning lawyers to work for in-house counsel.
eLawyering makes a lot of really great points about the limitations on Axiom's potential clients (as a not-law firm, it cannot provide services directly to the public but can handle work for in-house attorneys), issues of unauthorized practice of law, and the issue of malpractice liability (are in-house attorneys liable if Axiom makes a mistake). Richard Granat's article is definitely worth the read.
We'd also ask one further question: Who is to blame for the further erosion of the work available in the legal market? LegalZoom gets customers from people who cannot afford attorneys. Basically, small firms price themselves out of the market with high overhead and $300 per hour rates.
The same problem applies to BigLaw. They hire $160,000 associates, take issues of bill churning far too lightly, and commit the cardinal sins of lawyerdom that lead in-house counsel to forever blacklist certain firms and attorneys. BigLaw has lost sight of customer service and providing value at a reasonable cost, and it's left companies willing to take risks by handing out work to non-lawyer non-law non-firms.
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- ACC Starting Crusade Against Bill Churning? (FindLaw's In House Blog)