Posted by Jennifer Macqueen
Utah State’s new Regulatory Sandbox program has provided a path for the first non-lawyer owned law firm to open its doors this month. This is a first in Utah, a first in the U.S., and a first for the legal industry overall.
In a joint press release issued March 15, 2021, Law on Call and Northwest Regional Agent, announced that they have joined forces to create this unique law firm model providing, “…legal services at traditionally impossible speeds and prices. Clients will pay only $9 a month to receive unlimited phone access to licensed lawyers who can offer legal advice. Legal work, if needed, will be available starting at just $100 an hour—no retainer necessary.”
Governor Herbert signed the Sandbox legislation in 2019, with the goal of encouraging the realization of business ideas, innovative products, and services throughout the State of Utah. Entrepreneurs’ attraction to the program is due to the low upfront hassle compared to launching a typical business. Interested Sandbox participants are provided a limited time period, at the outshoot, to test their idea/product/service on the market. They have up to two years to see how well the market responds to their idea, before entering the burdensome licensing and authorization effort required by state laws. Local Utah State of Department of Commerce is tasked with managing the Sandbox applications and providing necessary administrative oversight.
When it comes to offering legal services – for which lawyers’ hourly rates tend to be the perceived indicator of their value – it will be very interesting to observe this business concept. It seems almost impossible to for them to remain lucrative when charging only $9/month for “unlimited phone access to licensed lawyers.” Those monthly fees alone can quickly add up to thousands under standard market rates.