Seeking the legal advice of an attorney is notoriously expensive, making it difficult for start-ups and small businesses to afford the hourly rates charged for legal services. The economic crisis and our society’s increasing dependence on technology has resulted in a shift in the legal market. Now, those seeking counsel have resources that are more easily accessible and affordable. Solo practitioners and some law firms are now offering legal services for either a flat monthly fee or for a flat rate for certain services, rather than the hourly fee. Those seeking these affordable rates should keep in mind that not all legal work can be whittled down to a flat rate.
Some attorneys conduct business out of a virtual office and communicate with their clients mostly or entirely through phone calls and emails. This reduces overhead costs for the attorney, which is then reflected in the lower cost charged for legal services. Additionally, the accessibility of attorneys has increased thanks to websites like UpCounsel, where consumers can access a large network of attorneys that can be sorted by practice area, location, and other factors. UpCounsel is essentially a virtual legal community and marketplace that allows the consumer to either specify the budget they had in mind for a legal task, or comb through the qualifications and experience of many attorneys that can handle the legal task before deciding which attorney he or she wants to hire for the work. This system takes the guesswork out of evaluating different legal fees that each attorney charges for a certain task. UpCounsel also offers free downloadable and customizable legal forms, as well as step by step guides to common legal issues.
The recent economic recession highlighted the reality that most of the population simply could not afford the cost of legal services. The use of technology in the legal market helped restructure the delivery of legal services, making it more affordable than ever to seek legal advice. Virtual legal communities like UpCounsel help consumers connect with experienced attorneys that fit within his or her budget.
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