|Legal Blog Watch|
Pre-Paid Legal Services Are a Good Bet, but What About Investing in Biglaw?
I was surprised to learn that Prepaid Legal Services comes recommended as a strong investment opportunity at two different stock market advice sites, Motley Fool and Seeking Alpha. I'd always believed that pre-paid services were so limited in scope, basically covering simple routine matters like will drafting or uncontested divorce, that they didn't interest many consumers. Plus, a few months ago, I posted on impending FTC regulations that would significantly restrict some of the multilevel marketing schemes employed by Pre-Paid Legal, thereby reducing sales. Finally, I'd often wondered how Pre-Paid Legal is able to attract enough attorneys to handle cases, given the substantial fee discounts that attorneys must offer for work covered by the plan.
But apparently, I was wrong about many of these issues. A recent article in the National Law Journal reports that many solo and small-firm attorneys are drawn to providing service for pre-paid plans because the stable income outweighs the low rates. And analysts view pre-paid plans as a good investment for other reasons as well. At Seeking Alpha, Alex Shadunsky writes that Pre-Paid Legal has only one competitor (Hyatt Legal), and its target market consists of 100 million households, with only 1.5 million presently subscribing:
I wonder whether the same considerations that make Pre-Paid Legal such an attractive investment opportunity would also apply if bloggers like Larry Ribstein have their way, and large law firms can go public.
Women Lawyers Opting In
Used to be that once woman lawyers jumped off the career path, like Hansel and Gretel, they never found their way back. But in some small ways, that scenario may be changing, as more and more professional women are choosing to return to work after spending several years out of the work force to raise children. The trend, referred to as "opting in" is described in this New York Times piece by Lisa Belkin entitled After Baby, Boss Comes Calling (5/17/07; hat tip to Denise Howell).
The article reports on many of the resources now available to professional women who seek to return to the work force, such as refresher courses and networking groups that weren't available even as recently as five years ago. Moreover, there's been a sea change in employers' attitudes: With high-skilled talent in demand, firms are actively targeting women who've left the work force for jobs. And even law firms are opting in:
Still, Belkin herself remains skeptical, as do others in the blogosphere. Belkin writes:
Maybe opting in is a real trend, or maybe it's just an exaggeration, based on a handful of anecdotal stories as Belle Lettre suggest. And perhaps there are, as Hurt writes, barriers to re-entry. But at the end of the day, who cares? By highlighting the very possibility of opting in, difficult or limited in scope as it may be, we make women realize that there's a chance for second or third acts if they're willing to work hard enough for them. And that may be enough to inspire a talented woman (maybe even another Sandra Day O'Connor, who also left the work force to raise her children) to return to the law.
Renato Sánchez 3586 of 10