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Enterprising Idea: Charge Less

When The Wall Street Journal reported in August on lawyers whose hourly fees had reached $1,000, a partner at one New York firm described that rate as "a possible vomit point for clients." If so, then Greenwich, Conn., lawyer Patricia A. DeWitt's clients should have no problems swallowing her bills, given that her rate comes in at $930-an-hour less. In September, DeWitt launched her "e-law" firm,, with one primary selling point: Get an experienced attorney for the affordable single rate of $70 an hour.

It is a business model, DeWitt tells The Norwalk Advocate, that she believes will become the trend of the future:

"DeWitt, who has been practicing law since 1987 and is licensed in Connecticut and New York, said offering her services via the Internet is a sign of the times. Having a virtual office allows her and her clients added flexibility, she said. After contacting DeWitt via e-mail through the Web site, a client can meet her in her office, at a Starbucks or may choose to handle business by e-mail."

Her inspiration to become an e-lawyer came from two sources, DeWitt tells the newspaper: Thomas Friedman's book, The World is Flat, and consumer advocate Clark Howard. "Where do I fit in the flattened world and where can I get the best for the cheapest -- I took those two ideas and translated that to," she said.

Ironically, low price could be DeWitt's greatest impediment to success. Legal-marketing consultant Mark Pruner explains to the Advocate:

"One of the challenges here is that while Ms. DeWitt is clearly very well-qualified for services that people can't analyze themselves, they frequently think quality varies with prices. So being able to show that you can deliver quality services at reasonable prices is always a marketing challenge."

A challenge, perhaps, but one more lawyers should take on.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on October 4, 2007 at 04:21 PM | Permalink | Comments (15)


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