AccessSolicitor to mine public data in latest ‘find a lawyer’ venture

Smith: site offers users much greater depth

An online legal directory aiming to aggregate the publicly available data about lawyers – including complaints information from the Legal Ombudsman – has launched with the outline details of nearly 13,000 lawyers. has gone live in its ‘proof of concept’ phase, setting the framework for a site which founder Warren Smith said will become far more detailed over the coming months.

Mr Smith – who qualified at City firm SNR Denton before working in legal and commercial roles at leading media companies, most recently Endemol – said the business is backed by “several high net-worth investors and venture capitalists”.

The 13,000 profiles of solicitors, barristers, chartered legal executives and licensed conveyancers came from commercially available sources, which AccessSolicitor then verified.

At the moment the site just lists firms/chambers and their practice areas, along with details of some individual lawyers at those practices – specialism, qualification and for how long they have been qualified.

This is to be augmented by a range of publicly available information, with AccessSolicitor approaching the profession’s regulators for access to their professional registers – openness that has been strongly advocated by the Legal Services Consumer Panel.

Mr Smith said he has also met the Legal Services Board and made contact with the Legal Ombudsman about using the data it publishes on complaints.

He explained that once the site has been populated with the additional data, a host of new features will be introduced and users will be able to search via a range of detailed criteria, with a “complicated algorithm” helping them to identify suitable lawyers

Firms are currently listed for free as Mr Smith said he wanted to build its credibility with the profession – even without any marketing to consumers and SMEs, which will not start until next year, the site has already been receiving 10,000 unique visitors a month.

Once lawyers begin to receive “quality leads” through the site, Mr Smith said, they will be able to pay for additional features, although the basic listing will remain free. This is likely to begin in early 2014. Lawyers can ask to be removed from the site.

AccessSolicitor is also developing legal guides in conjunction with the University of Westminster’s law school.

While there are already several ‘find a lawyer’ websites, Mr Smith said “a lot are doing it badly”, aggregating some data without verifying it. AccessSolicitor will offer “much greater depth”.

    Readers Comments

  • David Laud says:

    Yet another website that will drive law firms scrabbling to be “on the list”.

    My advice:

    Step back, put yourselves in the shoes of a client on t’internet.

    1.Pick a service area that you want help with.
    2. Google it…..
    2.How would you find this site?
    3. If you find it, how would you select a firm?

    As a directory listed law firm:

    1. Does it accurately reflect your location and service offering
    2. Are the individuals listed correct and appropriate?
    3. What traffic will it drive to your website?
    4. What risks are there to your firms reputation if listed and linked to a negative review?

    Whilst I’m all for seeking out multiple promotional channels for firms (especially if low cost or free) it pays to have a good long think about the sites to which you’re signing up to.

    I’ve yet to see one of these directory sites, other than the flawed, Law Society “find a solicitor” rank sufficiently on Google to offer any hope of a decent return.

    My advice, spend the time and effort in building your own presence and connect to trusted proven sites that offer true value in reciprocity.

    To be fair to Mr Smith his website might well be one that is worth connecting to but poor Google ranking, lack of appropriate information in the guides, (PI no limitation date advice) Cleveland linking to Milton Keynes and random selection of branch sites rather than head office sites is not a good start.

    David Laud

  • David, thanks for taking the trouble to look at Access Solicitor. As the original article stated, Access Solicitor is currently in an early stage of development. Your criticism about Google ranking should be placed in that context. As should the current status of guides which are first drafts (and provide an opportunity for contributions such as yours). And, similarly, your criticism of branches versus head offices merely reflects the initial, and yet substantial, data-set we have started with. And finally, the Cleveland comment is harsh when taken out of context – that English county name was abolished in the mid-1990’s, Teeside is known by various other names and there actually is a Cleveland area in Milton Keynes!

    The defense of your micro-critique of Access Solicitor aside, I actually agree with your analysis of the relevant questions to ask when deciding whether an online directory can delivery a return on investment and I also agree with your criticism of the other directories currently available. This is why we are developing Access Solicitor with a consumer focus and why we are investing to build a service that does exactly what you say it needs to for lawyers too. For more details please see: I would be very happy to discuss our approach with you further whenever you like.


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