Exclusive: Google-backed US online legal service plans UK launch in 2012

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By Legal Futures

19 August 2011


Moore: Rocket Lawyer will expand market for legal services

Rocket Lawyer, the Google-backed American online legal document business, is set to launch in the UK next year and will be looking for lawyers to offer services to its customers, Legal Futures can reveal.

Founder Charley Moore said the advent of alternative business structures made the UK an attractive location because “the market’s getting more receptive to new ways of consuming legal services”.

As we reported last week, Google’s venture capital arm, Google Ventures, has joined a group of investors putting $18.5m (£11.4m) into Rocket Lawyer, which provides a subscription-based legal document assembly service. Some of the company’s templates are also available through Google Docs.

In an interview with Legal Futures, Mr Moore – whose legal career started at one-time Silicon Valley pioneers Venture Law Group – said he set up the company in 2008 in the belief that individuals and small businesses get a better service if they collaborate with their lawyers in the creation of their documents.

He said around 20m people will use Rocket Lawyer this year and argued that services such as this expand the market for legal services, rather than compete with lawyers, by making them more accessible. There is a reason, he suggested, that as in the UK, less than half of Americans have a will.

Mr Moore said they will replicate the service in the UK – “that’s what our customers love” – meaning advertising and other marketing methods to promote the brand, and providing users with a “Legal Health Score” of 1 to 100 that summarises their current legal health. He said that with the experience of producing documents suitable for 50 different states, the company was not fazed by the prospect of doing the same in the three UK jurisdictions. The aim is to launch by the end of 2012.

Rocket Lawyer will also be looking to partner with lawyers to support the document assembly process.

Any lawyer can have their profile on Rocket Lawyer for free and start receiving referrals, although there are premium levels of membership at a cost (Mr Moore said “the vast majority” of the 6,000 lawyers with profiles on Rocket Lawyer pay nothing). Lawyers are required to provide certain document review services for free and offer a heavy discount on other legal services users purchase.

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