I was recently approached by two separate potential clients that previously worked with the same law firm. This law firm has a website with easy client sign-up for engaging the firm’s services and filing trademark applications with fees comparable to those charged by LegalZoom, but with an actual law firm.
I have seen these low-priced firms or online offerings before and never understood how it would be possible to provide quality service at such a low fee. But after speaking with the two clients who were unhappy with their experience and looking to hire our firm, I quickly understood why.
To These Firms, Clients Are Just a Number and Often Left in the Dark
I had the opportunity to review the e-mail correspondence both clients had with this firm that was hired to handle their trademark applications, and it became apparent just how horrible the customer service truly is. The clients were left in the dark about what was going on with their case, whether positive or negative, and they were left to poke, prod, nudge, nag, and scream before any feedback was given, not to mention actually getting the firm to take action on anything substantive.
Without Guidance or Advice, Clients Are at Risk of Making Poor Choices
Yes, online services like LegalZoom or low-cost law firms may appear to be cheaper alternatives to hiring a private attorney; however, what people fail to realize (or don’t want to admit) is that with such services, you just don’t know what you don’t know.
What if the services you are purchasing are not actually the right choice for your business? What if there are better and more cost-effective ways to achieve your goals that will make more sense for your company as you evolve and grow? Or, what if you make a mistake? Will you be forced to pay double or triple to clean up the mess later?
Each time I speak to a potential client who suggests they may opt for one of these firms or use LegalZoom rather than hiring our firm or another smaller, more client-focused firm in order to save money, I tell them they should save even more money and just as effectively self-file via the USPTO. When filing for a trademark, if the attorney hired does not actually take the time to discuss with the client the client’s personal and/or business goals and explain potential risks involved in any given matter, it is better to save the extra money and just file directly with the USPTO.
Remember, it’s not just the filing of a trademark or a patent that most business owners or entrepreneurs need, but it’s actually the counseling, advice, analysis, and experience that a qualified attorney can bring to the table that the business depends on. Simply put: you are not just buying a contract, trademark, or a patent (aka- the paper) but instead, what the contract, trademark, or patent does for your business as an asset. In the alternative, sometimes it is the potential risk that you avoid by the counseling, advice, analysis, and experience an attorney provides.
Still on the fence? Take the time to at least TALK to an attorney before choosing a DIY or hybrid-DIY service.
The good news is that most law firms, like ours, offer free or low-cost consultations that empower people with a better idea of what they really need in order to accomplish their goals and what exactly may be at risk by choosing a DIY service of any kind. That may be in terms of hidden costs that you weren’t aware of or expecting, limitations with the service provided, or even problems that could arise for your business because of unwise choices.
Most of us believe that you get what you pay for. This holds true not only as it relates to legal services but in all areas of business and life. So, when it comes to something as valuable as your intellectual property, do your due diligence and make sure that whoever you work with has your ultimate goals and best interests at top-of-mind. Remember, services that may appear to save you money today could cost you big time down the road. Do your homework, and feel free to contact our office if you’d like to schedule a complimentary planning session to discuss your needs.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice or a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney.