Chris McKinney

March 5, 2021

The Ethics of Legal Knowledge Products

I’m a big fan of Mitch Jackson. He is relentlessly positive and is always on the bleeding edge of using social media and other new tech to market his practice and deliver superior client service. In this video he discusses the mistakes he has seen in 2020 and how we can best prepare for 2021. 

If you want to learn more from Mitch, check him out at Streaming.lawyer 

In this video, Mitch talks about attacking 2021 and gives some excellent thoughts on doing so. However, he briefly mentions one thought that caught my attention in particular. That is the potential strategy of “productization” of legal services (my word, not Mitch’s so don’t @ him to complain). Simply put, the idea of productization is to put some of the knowledge that you use every day representing clients into a stand-alone product of some fashion (probably a digital product) that can be sold direct to the consumer on the internet. 

Productization is an idea that has been receiving a fair amount of attention in the Future of Law crowd, including from my friend Mike Whelan. You can check him out at his website, LawyerForward.com

The upside of creating a legal product of this sort is that it can scale and be mass-marketed to a much larger degree than your one-off legal services to clients.  You can be making money in the middle of the night while you are sleeping. Who wouldn’t want that?

I do see a potential downside, however. Often with clients come to see me they want an answer to a particular question.  And, I could charge them for the answer to that question. But sometimes…fairly often actually…I don’t provide an answer to the client’s question.  Why not?  Because the client is asking the wrong question. 

I am all for lawyers finding new ways to monetize their knowledge and enhance their ability to make a living in these challenging times. But I do have a concern that mass-marketed, digital knowledge products run the risk of breaching our ethical duties to those seeking legal advice and information. 


Chris McKinney is an employment civil rights attorney practicing throughout the State of Texas from his law firm, The McKinney Law Firm, in San Antonio. You can email him at Chris.McKinney@hey.com.