The Uberization of Legal Technology

Harnessing technology to optimize car services, Uber disrupted the tired monopoly of yellow cabs and put the power back in the hands of the consumer. While the same is happening in the legal services sector, not much attention has been paid to the business side where for small law practices and solo attorneys, the struggle to gain visibility is an uphill battle.

Legaltech has powered advancements such as the ability to “e-file” documents remotely with federal and state courts, who are in turn posting filings on web-powered databases; e-discovery, the process of uncovering digital information for legal proceedings; and e-documents, such as the flat-fee contract, privacy policy or will which can be purchased with the click of a button.

While legaltech is affecting the legal profession in myriad ways, business development—particularly for small-practice and solo attorneys—has become harder than ever before. With 15% more lawyers in the nation than a decade ago but no industry growth, small-practice attorneys may be exceptional legal professionals, yet unable to gain new customers. Making matters worse, today’s most prominent attorney marketing services are expensive and ineffective, acting as a glorified phone book rather than generating qualified leads.

This major oversight in the marketplace is even more outrageous considering how many of today’s consumers lack basic legal resources. In an age when there’s an app for everything, whether it’s to book air travel, rent a car, sell products or start a business, there wasn’t an app that could simply and easily connect you with legal counsel. Giving consumers a tool to book free consultations is the future of law, and the heart of attorney business development.

Consumers have historically had little access to attorneys for a variety of reasons. First, unlike for doctors and mechanics, there is no annual legal checkup (though perhaps there should be). Consumers may be intimidated by not knowing costs upfront or even knowing if they have a case worth discussing. Assuming that every American will have at least three legal questions annually, there’s an untapped market of over a billion potential legal inquiries every year.

A legal question doesn’t have to be a major legal problem: often we are faced with everyday issues for which an attorney’s insight is helpful. Perhaps you needed some pointers on a recent contract or deal. You may have had questions on an employment agreement, maternity leave, or a domestic incident. We have all had concerns that needed to be discussed with a legal professional, and more often than not, we didn’t seek out legal advice.

Then there are the countless legal problems consumers have every year for which they’ll certainly need a lawyer: bankruptcy, divorce, immigration and DUI to name a few, where retaining legal counsel is a must. Most people know they will need a lawyer but may not know where to turn.

Before Uber, you entered the yellow cab at your own peril.  Before the age of legal tech, consumers struggled to access attorneys. Now, consumers can book as many free consultations as they need until they find the right match.  Attorneys gain access to a new stream of inbound leads at a time that works for their schedules: on the go, between meetings or after hours.

With billions of potential legal inquiries per year in the United States alone, it’s time for attorneys to join the growing legaltech movement and let the “uberization” of legal technology benefit their businesses and gain new clients.

Legaltech has enabled better, cheaper and higher volume of legal services. Now, attorneys can put legaltech to use for their business development, gaining new clients in an easy, cost-effective manner, right on their phones. Best of all, consumers are now empowered to connect with an attorney any time, anywhere making for a better, fairer world for all.

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