Via The Big Picture: Attorney Sara Papantonio of the Levin Papantonio Rafferty law firm joins Holland Cooke to discuss the Zoom era and how it has changed the legal services industry.


*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.

Holland Cooke:                   Attorney Sara Papantonio of the Levin Papantonio Rafferty law firm. Sara, even if LegalZoom’s shares didn’t jump 35% on its recent IPO date, CEO Dan Wernikoff, smells money. Listen to this.

Dan Wernikoff:                   Either, you know, have a very low cost solution, which doesn’t provide any guidance or you have to go all the way to the extreme of now you have to, you know, pay for an expert and you’re worried about the time you’re spending with the expert. And so we try to like get right in the middle of those two opportunities and, uh, and, and use technology really to make the expert that much more efficient. The market itself is extremely large. We’re talking about a 50 billion ish, uh, Sam, and, you know, today, the digital consumption is extremely low. So, you know, when you think about legal services, we only have, you know, 8% of our services are delivered online versus other categories like accounting, where you see much more adoption of online solutions. So that’s, that’s the opportunity that’s in front of us. And when we get really excited.

Holland Cooke:                   Sara, two part question. For which, if any legal services, is online delivery useful, and for which is it a false economy, and how has this Zoom era changed your firm’s practice?

Sara Papantonio:              Well, Holland, LegalZoom is a great way, it’s going to be great for small businesses, great for people to avoid spending money on paper pushing type lawyers, you know. These are going to be the lawyers who we pay huge fees, fees to fill out documents or do estate planning, business formation, taxes, all kinds of things like that. We pay tons and tons of money to these lawyers to do things that most of us could probably just figure out with a little bit of guidance. And this company is providing that access and they’re providing that guidance to people through affordable legal services. I think you’re going to have some lawyers who fear that this platform is going to take over the legal field entirely, but I don’t see that being the case. This is very innovative. It’s never going to be a full substitution to legal representative. And that’s because, you know, lucky for us, lawyers, lawmakers have made laws very difficult to grasp. They’ve given us a lot of job security.

And so they’ve made the law very nuanced. So LegalZoom, this, this program is going to be so great for small businesses with heavy paperwork who, who, you know, who just need that extra push, but LegalZoom is never going to get up and be able to argue a case to a jury. They’re never going to be able to fight a motion to dismiss on a multi-million dollar corporation. But, but the thing that we need to grab from LegalZoom is how important it is. The point is, is that we as lawyers are so behind the curve in terms of adjusting to the legal world or the zoom world, adjusting to the technological world, like we heard only 8%, 8% of our services are done online and that’s just not okay. See where we are in 2021 and we have got to make these adjustments, and I think LegalZoom, this program is going to push our industry into making those adjustments. So in the end, I think this program is very good for the industry. We’ve seen how important it is through this massive pandemic and through the Zoom error. So we certainly are gonna try to take as much advantage of it as we can and push it.

Holland Cooke:                   We’ve all gotten virtual during the shutdown. Has your firm increased what it does online?

Sara Papantonio:              Absolutely. You know, we, right now we’re living in the area of, era of Zoom depositions, Zoom trials. And what we found is it gives us a lot more time and efficiency to focus on the clients. And a lot more time, you know, spent working on the case. We’re not traveling, we’re not spending all of this time, you know, talking to, just wasting time. The virtual world has done so much for our legal profession. It’s made us so much more efficient, so we can’t stop using it. You know, we’ve got to keep pushing forward and our law firms certainly is taking full advantage.