Finding a lawyer is one of those essential things any person or business owner needs at some point. But, how do you actually find one?
That's the question Chicago entrepreneur Matthew Horn found himself asking. With a son on the way, Horn was looking to set up an estate plan. Though a practicing attorney, Horn did not have experience or connections in estate planning. So he asked people he knew for referrals.
“I got a referral, and somebody told me that an estate plan would be $10,000 or $15,000,” said Horn. “I thought that was shocking.”
Like most consumers, Horn started Googling his options. After an initial surveying of the landscape, he started emailing various attorneys to figure out what services they offered and whether or not they were interested in taking his case.
Taken aback by the amount of work involved in finding the right fit, Horn started feeling like there had to be a better way for attorneys and clients to connect. The solution he came up with was Legal Services Link.
Legal Services Link is an online platform where consumers post about their legal needs anonymously. A user sends a case to all relevant attorneys in the company’s database by filling out a web form and writing a quick summary of the situation’s specifics. After reviewing a case summary, attorneys can submit bids to the user with price estimates and some notes about their experience.
Horn said the vast majority of listed attorneys on his site are operators of independent practices, for whom seeking out new clients can be a time-consuming and arduous process. Though setting up a profile is free for both lawyers and consumers, attorneys pay a $250 annual fee to submit bids for cases.
Co-founder Ryan Caltagirone said the company hopes to make legal counsel more accessible and affordable for middle class and low-income consumers, in part by making it easier to find recent law school graduates, or attorneys starting new practices who are willing to work for less.
“Younger attorneys have really embraced it,” said Caltagirone.
Though these younger attorneys may not have the experience of a partner at a major law firm, the option for many consumers is often not to get an attorney at all.
Horn said getting buy-in from the first 20 lawyers on the site felt like an uphill battle, because the legal industry has a reputation for being skeptical of change. But today, the company’s database lists nearly 350 attorneys.
To date, Caltagirone and Horn are the company’s only full-time employees, but the company also has around 10 independent developers, designers and marketers who work for the firm part-time. The company is based out of 1871.
Image via Legal Services Link.