We wanted to let Trial Guides customers know of the second price increase in Trial Guides' 18 year history. We wanted to give you some understanding of why we've made the choice to increase prices at this time.
Throughout our history as a company, we have attempted to keep prices as low as possible for our customers. Starting in 2004, our goal was to keep prices 1/3 to 1/4 of the prices of similar products at West, Lexis and other legal publishers. More importantly, we strongly believed that a product, whether that be $95 or $995 that can make you $100,000, $1,000,000 or $10,000,000 extra in your career should be an obvious purchase. In the past 18 years of business, we have customers who have established multi-million dollar practices using the Trial Guides methods. We have remained committed to providing you products capable of dramatically increasing your success as a lawyer at the lowest price possible. We have done this for the legal community with no annual dues to support our efforts.
In early 2006 with the first publication of Rules of the Road, Trial Guides moved away from traditional legal binder books. Some likely found this move from binder books to a simple hardback distasteful, it democratized advanced legal training and created a revolution for the plaintiffs bar. Before Trial Guides, lawyers would buy a binder book from our competitors for $350 or more and then receive $85+ annual updates without ordering them. Our move to bound hardback and paperback books, only updated when a major change in the law had occurred, dramatically changed legal publishing in favor of practicing lawyers - particularly those new to practice. In the coming years, most of our books were published at $95 or below. Industry insiders were clear that annual updates (often just a few printed pages) were where the legal publishing industry made its money. While removing annual updates was a massive savings for practicing lawyers, it prevented ongoing financial support for Trial Guides' operation as a legal publisher. This was fine while sales remained high for each book through a string of successes like Rules of the Road, Polarizing the Case, David Ball on Damages, and our distribution of Reptile. But toward the end of the recession, lawyers decreased their purchase of books. Across multiple legal publishers, the volume of legal books fell by approximately 75%, and it has never recovered in any meaningful way.
Trial Guides does not have annual memberships, nor have we ever received a donation to support our work on behalf of injured people and their lawyers. Losses have been covered solely by Trial Guides' owner. In years where the company is profitable, Trial Guides has historically operated in a way that the profits from product sales go back into creating new product. Big selling books and videos funded projects that might not be published by our much larger competitors because they were not expected to be profitable. We have emphasized putting people (particularly injured people and the lawyers who represent them) over our profits. We built the company for our customers' benefit, and that of the people they represent. Competitors increased their prices, in some cases as much as 300%, and / or dramatically decreased their publishing because it was no longer financially viable. While Trial Guides accepted the financial impact of the decrease in sales from 2012 forward, we finally accepted that the volume of sales could not support keeping our prices at $95 or less. We instituted the first price increase on our catalog in 2016.
Legal publishing has become a greatly diminished business since the recession, and with the rate of tort litigation decreasing nationwide by approximately 80% since 1992, publishing on litigation methods has become a significantly smaller market. As most of the nation's trial lawyers retire and most newer lawyers don't try cases, the number of lawyers buying any product from Trial Guides in 2021 was approximately 8,000 lawyers out of the 150,000 plaintiff lawyers, and 1.3 million lawyers in the United States. The percentage of lawyers we see actively attempting to learn how to increase their skills is only 5% of the plaintiff's bar, and a much smaller percentage of other lawyers. And, on average each lawyer purchased less in 2021 than they did in 2011 during the recession. For every 100 lawyers that reach the Trial Guides web site and put a Trial Guides product in their "cart," only 6% complete the transaction. This longer term historical decrease in sales has been compounded by COVID-19 court closures, and a resulting further decrease in lawyers interested in learning trial skills. This is an issue that should greatly concern the legal profession and the public.
This decrease in purchases has been combined with many book manufacturers going out of business, resulting in the remaining manufacturers who print our books to dramatically increase prices. Paper prices have also skyrocketed. Then throughout COVID-19 we have seen ever increasing inflation that impacts our operation and the costs of doing business.
Trial Guides creates excellent products with the best quality content, editing and manufacturing in legal publishing. Our goal is to make the highest quality legal products, and for our products to serve you throughout your career. But, prices for this process have escalated significantly due to a significant increase in the costs of product creation (and / or the technology to support them) combined with a decrease in purchases per product. Ultimately, this has resulted in the need for us to increase prices throughout our catalog, for the second time since 2004.
We hope you will continue to support Trial Guides' products and services so that we can keep prices at this level. We would strongly prefer more lawyers being involved as this would allow us to lower prices for our products. We will continue the substantial discounts through the New Lawyer Program to try to help those just getting started in their careers.
We continue to believe that any purchase to improve your success, for which you can make a 10x or much greater return on your investment over the course of your career is well worth the price.