It works for contractors and mortgages, why not for lawyers? Legal directory site Avvo has launched an RFP/lead-gen marketplace for attorneys.
Finding a lawyer today is a matter of traversing the usual sources: word of mouth, yellow pages (print + online), Google and Yelp. Avvo aims to bring more structure and convenience to the process and in the process generate leads for lawyers.
The marketplace operates in two practice areas currently: traffic tickets and divorce. Users fill out a form that asks standardized questions and receive a proposal back.
This is a hypothetical client proposal:
In addition to the Avvo rating, the company says that prospective clients will receive a range of information from the lawyer:
- Their approach to the case
- Fees in the form of hourly or flat rates, or estimated cost
- An outcome assessment based on past outcomes, if appropriate, or evaluation of the information provided thus far
- Estimated length of time the case should take, if appropriate
In order to receive these leads Avvo says that lawyers must have a claimed profile on the site.
I’ve asked Avvo about the business model, which is probably partly regulated or constrained by state bar ethics rules. I don’t know if there’s a flat lead/referral fee or whether there’s a percentage share of the value of the case.
For many consumers this will be a valuable service when it expands. It will also be welcome by sole practitioners, new lawyers and perhaps small firms. Lawyers tend to be arrogant (I was one and practiced litigation for nine years). So many of them will find this distasteful, “insulting” and not want to be “reduced to a commodity.”