Seth Godin has a blog post Fidelity vs. Convenience discussing the concepts in Kevin Maney's upcoming book. The book's premise is that there is a trade off "between delivering extraordinary experiences (which he calls fidelity) and doing it in a way that's cheap and easy (convenience)."
Godin says,"In the words of Bill Gross, in order to win with a new product, you need to be on one axis or another, and ten times better than what you're aiming to replace. Which means ten times more high impact or ten times cheaper and easier.
"A refrigerator is ten times more convenient than an icebox. A cell phone is ten times more convenient than a pay phone. A private jet is ten times more joyful/fidelity than first class for the executive that can afford it. A backstage pass at a Cat Power concert is ten times higher fidelity than a ripped MP3."
That idea both intrigued and bothered me as I attempted to apply it to legal services. Setting aside business-related law matters, is there really much way to make most consumer legal matters a "high fidelity experience?" With things like family law, criminal defense, bankruptcy, it seems unlikely and, if you accept the premise that you can only "win" on one axis or the other, that leaves convenience.
If convenience and usability are the hallmarks of success for the future lawyer helping people with their problems, this may manifest itself in lots of ways: clear predictable fixed fees, evening or weekend office hours, online client document repositories during representation with a big PDF of everything provided when the matter closes, avoiding unneeded "legalese" in client communications, online payment systems or other innovative ideas. Lower pricing is another aspect, but experienced lawyers tend to feel competing on fees alone is a losing proposition for both the lawyer and the services the client receives.