Business of Law
Some Brick-and-Mortar Law Firms Also Offer Cheaper, Web-Based Services
By Debra Cassens Weiss
Nov 8, 2012, 12:00 pm CST
As websites offering online legal advice gain in popularity, some bricks-and-mortar law firms are hopping on board the bandwagon.
The business model for online legal advice “is gaining steam,” the Wall Street Journal reports, citing the opinions of supporters and critics. Online websites offering legal advice include Pearl.com, where lawyers charge an average of $30 to $40 to answer legal questions, and Avvo.com, where lawyers answer questions for free to promote their practices.
“In recent years, Web-based attorneys have gone mainstream,” the story says, “with pitches aimed at the cost-conscious. And while critics question whether their advice hits the mark, they concede the online model can work in some relatively simple situations.”
Many traditional law firms are also offering cheaper, Web-based services such as will preparation and document review. DirectLaw, a company that provides support to law firms with online practices, says it has gained 250 clients since its founding three years ago. The article quotes company founder Richard Granat, an ABA Journal Legal Rebel. “There are a lot of lawyers experimenting with moving their brands online,” he says.
Stephanie Kimbro, who blogs and operates a virtual law office in Wilmington, N.C., says the old Q-and-A websites for online legal services may soon be eclipsed by new business models. Many legal service companies are developing platforms using videoconferencing, expert systems and tools to match consumers with appropriate legal counsel, Kimbro wrote in a comment to the Wall Street Journal article. “Several of these are still in beta, but they present interesting case studies of where this trend is headed for online legal service delivery to the public,” she wrote.