Law firm franchise reinvents itself as online legal service for businesses

Print This Post

16 November 2012

Evident Legal founders Jonathan Brewer (left) and Jean-Paul Camelbeek

Simplify the Law – a law firm franchise concept which launched last year – has reinvented itself as an online legal service that aims to help commercial lawyers repel new competition in the market, Legal Futures can report.

The site offers users a wide range of free legal guidance, as well as the ability to create a range of free legal documents, which have been produced by Newcastle law firm Dickinson Dees.

If users then want to find a lawyer for further help, there are currently 83 solicitors profiled in the site’s directory, broken down into specialisms. Some are from firms in LawNet, with which Evident Legal – the company behind Simplify – has a partnership.

Evident is also offering a white-label version of the site to firms, and three have already taken this up.

Error, group does not exist! Check your syntax! (ID: 14)

Evident CEO Jonathan Brewer said: “The problem we’re trying to answer for businesses is not ‘Where do a I find a lawyer?’ – that’s not the question they’re asking – but ‘What do I do about this legal problem and how can I stay away from a lawyer for as long as possible?’.”

This means the free guidance is a critical part of the site, but he added that research in the US indicated that 70-80% of users who start to draft documents online ended up seeking legal advice. “You have to give a little to get back.”

Evident is now trying to sign up more firms, but Mr Brewer cautioned that the free approach “only works for law firms that make money from more complex work. If you make money from trotting out standard contracts, then the game’s up”.

He argued that firms need to act collectively if they want to take on the likes of Riverview Law, DAS, LegalZoom and RocketLawyer, as they cannot do this on their own. It will be promoted through search engine optimisation, pay-per-click advertising and PR activity. Simplify costs £399 for one fee-earner to be listed against one area of commercial law.

Mr Brewer said that while Evident spoke to a lot of firms about the franchising model, it proved too hard to get off the ground. “The good firms said that when you’ve got 10 firms [signed up], we’d like to be number 11.”



Leave a comment

* Denotes required field

All comments will be moderated before posting. Please see our Terms and Conditions

Legal Futures Blog

The LSB’s proposals for legislative reform: let’s be clear

Caroline Wallace LSB

The publication of the Legal Services Board’s vision for legislative reform of legal services regulation on 12 September has generated a healthy level of interest and debate. This can, on the surface, seem a somewhat dry subject. However, it has an impact not just on existing regulated practitioners, but also on providers of legal services more generally, as well as everyone who uses or benefits from an effective legal sector. And, let’s face it, that’s all of us.

October 25th, 2016