New app aims to find you a sub in a second
A typical day for a criminal defense attorney often involves court appearances in several different courthouses spread across various parts of the jurisdiction. And until modern science can figure out how to allow someone to be in two (or more) different places at the same time, defense attorneys will have to prioritize which clients to appear for and which ones they’ll have to call and apologize for.
StandIn, a new smartphone app, hopes to address that problem. The app, which was launched for beta testing on April 6 in Toronto and Detroit, uses location-based technology to allow lawyers to find other attorneys to stand in for them in court.
Developed by three Toronto natives—attorneys Andrew Johnston and Peter Carayiannis and entrepreneur Aron Solomon—StandIn enables a lawyer who has a conflict and can’t make it to court to find, book and pay another attorney to make a one-time court appearance for a client.
Carayiannis, who is president and founder of Conduit Law, and Johnston both graduated from Michigan State University College of Law, and the two met through MSU’s ReInvent Law Laboratory.
“We understand that criminal defense lawyers have conflicts due to their schedule—it happens all the time,” Carayiannis says. “The status quo is usually sticky notes or messages sent between lawyers. We figured we could use technology to better help lawyers represent their clients.”
StandIn users can either reach out to other attorneys individually to offer them the representation or submit an open request for any user to accept. Each user will post his or her individual rate, with StandIn taking a flat fee of $7.50 per engagement (plus credit card fees).
“Our users will use it in the way that best suits them,” says Carayiannis, who notes that the app turns off the geolocation service after the end of business so lawyers don’t have to worry about people finding out where they live or where they go after work. “But we’re not talking about trial work here. The app is really more for procedural or administrative appearances, where someone needs to be there to represent a client and the assigning lawyer has confidence that any other lawyer can make that appearance instead.”
Not everyone is sold on the need for such an app. Anthony Laycock, executive director of the Criminal Lawyers’ Association in Toronto, believes his organization already has a tool that allows attorneys to communicate with each other in the event of a scheduling conflict. “We typically address this need through our members Listserv,” Laycock says. “A simple Listserv post allows members to quickly contact other members to assist in appearances.”
Carayiannis says StandIn functions like a social network in that users must set up profiles and route visitors to their LinkedIn pages.
Another important feature is the review system: After each transaction, both attorneys involved must rate each other on a five-star scale and post a brief review to a user’s profile page.
“It’s mandatory for both users to submit reviews,” says Carayiannis. “It’s important for people to develop a good reputation on the app.”
Carayiannis says the three co-founders considered whether or not to partner with an established lawyer-review service like Avvo or Yelp in order to gain access to their reviews, but they decided against it. “We thought we had a good enough idea of what we wanted to accomplish that we decided to do it on our own,” he says. “Our goal is grow it city by city, and people should be able to develop their reputations quickly inside the app. We wanted it to be about StandIn and what someone’s StandIn rating was.”
Carayiannis hopes to expand StandIn to other cities starting in July. “Right now, we think the most pressing need for this app is on the criminal side,” he says. “But if we get a lot of feedback and demand for the civil side, we might add that.”
This article originally appeared in the July 2015 issue of the ABA Journal with this headline: “Role Call: An app to get you a sub in a second.”