“BigLaw”and “SmallLaw”are concepts that everyone in the legal space is familiar with. As we know, BigLaw covers the realm of billion dollar deals with armies of partners, associates, paralegals and Fortune 500 companies sparing no expense to get ironclad agreements in place. SmallLaw deals with transactions that are less high stakes but still require a lawyer. These are situations like filing for divorce, dealings with residential real estate or suing someone for property damage.
But what about what about the thousands of napkin agreements and verbal deals that take place between individuals and small businesses every single day? What about freelancers and independent contractors who often don’t consult a lawyer because it’s not quite in their budget to do so?
At Shake, we call this “long tail”of the legal marketplace “TinyLaw,”a rapidly expanding corner of the market that is expected to explode in the next several years.
We estimate that more than 3 billion TinyLaw deals happen annually in the United States alone (based on data from Craigslist, Freelancers Union, and the US Census). With the rise of both the gig economy and sharing economy, this number is expected to grow rapidly in the near future. According to the Freelancers Union over 42 million people can be classified as freelancers, and this number is expected to grow to 60 million by 2020. This means that people will increasingly depend on short-term, lightweight contracts to formalize their professional transactions.
The majority of independent contractors are probably not in a position to hire a lawyer for every contract template their business requires, but they still need to have access to legal tools to protect their work and themselves. TinyLaw transactions need to be simple and affordable so as not to create a roadblock that stands in the way of people earning a living.
TinyLaw is about helping people get deals done without getting screwed, and without the friction of traditional legal services. For TinyLaw, BigLaw and everything in between, understanding the dynamics of the changing economy, evolving workforce and new technology will be critical to the evolution of the legal services industry as a whole.
Image credit – chutam / Flickr