LawyerSelect is an Australian-first online legal marketplace for clients to select a lawyer without having to spend hours searching and second-guessing who might be best suited to represent them in a case.
Perth commercial barrister with 15 years of experience in the industry, Greg Carter says choosing the right lawyer is not only sensible, but critical.
“The right lawyer can make a significant difference to the amount of legal fees incurred and the outcome of a legal matter, not to mention the stress of the whole experience,” he says.
On Tuesday, LawyerSelect was launched officially in Western Australia for clients across the country and overseas to begin sending job leads. The business will roll-out into other States and Territories after establishing itself in WA.
Thus far, 65 lawyers nationwide have uploaded their profiles on the site – with 30 in Western Australia, 16 in New South Wales, 10 in Queensland, 7 in Victoria, 1 in South Australia, and 1 in Australian Capital Territory.
How does LawyerSelect work? Clients can anonymously post a brief description of their legal issue on the site. Lawyers can then submit brief proposals to clients through the site, leaving the clients to compare profiles and proposals and make an informed choice of lawyer to represent them. Their choice will be assisted by the recommendations of previous clients.
Essentially, it’s a marketplace for lawyers to compete for a client’s business. The site is free to use for clients, and there is no obligation to choose a lawyer on the site.
Mr Carter says he could see that “many clients were struggling to find the right lawyer, and many lawyers were struggling to be noticed in a crowded legal marketplace.”
“I believe that these problems can be addressed by an online platform that makes lawyers with relevant expertise visible to potential clients, and gives clients quality information about those lawyers to enable clients to make an informed choice,” Mr Carter adds.
Previously, there was no way for a client to compare lawyers easily. Legal websites and directories weren’t helpful because for any given area of law and geographical location, there were numerous lawyers and law firms claiming the same legal expertise – leaving the client to draw from a hat.
The site is disruptive to three main markets: the market for legal directories, which only provide lists of lawyers with no easy way to compare them; the market for lawyer referral websites, which put clients in touch with a so-called “experienced” lawyer chosen by the site; and the overall legal market.
The site’s offering can be summarised as follows:
- It enables clients to make an informed choice of lawyer, where previously it was a matter of chance and luck;
- It creates a new way for lawyers to source clients and business, complementing but also challenging traditional “word of mouth” referrals – which may not result in the “best fit”;
- It enables virtual law firms to be created by way of “job alliances” between lawyers in different legal practices, which challenges traditional “bricks and mortar” law firms; and
- It enables existing clients to easily “test” the market.
The legal market is reportedly worth over $20 billion in Australia; and there are more than 18,000 legal practices, most of those comprising sole practitioners and small firms that have two to five partners.
LawyerSelect’s initial target market is sole practitioners (including barristers) and small firms. Though over time, Mr Carter expects more medium to larger sized firms to adopt the platform.
The site is free to use for clients; and after a three-month free trial the site costs $500 (excluding GST) per year per lawyer in WA.
The site is currently free to use by lawyers outside of WA and the three-month trial will apply upon roll-out into other States and Territories.