Lawyer-matching service MyLegalAdviser is seeking investment to expand from 100 firms in and around London to 1,000 across the country, its founder has said.
Alex Boothman, a former private client solicitor, said the website abandoned its commission-based charging model earlier this year in favour of a new system “unique in the legal sector”.
Mr Boothman said the service was currently focussed on family, property and private client work for consumers but wanted to expand its offering for SMEs.
“We want to dramatically grow the number of our law firms,” he said. “There are 10,000 law firms in the country and we would like to work with 10% of them.
“We want to make it easier for lawyers to get their hands on the online market. It’s a big market, with 37% of people looking for a lawyer online but more than 60% of law firms not doing any digital marketing at all.
“For many small firms, digital marketing is prohibitively expensive. With us, they will only pay when clients are actually interested in taking things forward.”
Mr Boothman said he was hoping to secure investment from venture capitalists and angel investors “with the same vision as us”, at the latest by the end of this year.
He said that in April MyLegalAdviser introduced a new business model so that law firms were no longer charged a commission on their fees.
When consumers post details of their cases on the website, lawyers quote for the work, as they had done previously. He said quotes were sent to customers immediately they were received, with the average time needed to get a quote from a firm running at under 15 minutes.
Under the new system, when consumers are happy with a quote and want to contact the law firm, they click a ‘shortlist’ button and at this point law firms are charged a fee of between £5 and £45, based on the complexity and value of the work.
“With the commission system, it could take a long time between introducing the client and getting paid. As a start-up, that was not good for cashflow.
“Under the new system lawyers only pay to be introduced to people who not only want to hire a lawyer but are specifically interested in that particular lawyer.”
Since April, Mr Boothman said 350 jobs had been carried out through MyLegalAdviser, with a total fee value to firms of over £500,000.
Mr Boothman said the requirements on law firms to publish fees for a range of consumer transactions shortly to be imposed by the Solicitors Regulation Authority would not be enough for consumers to get what they wanted.
“It should help us,” he said. “Lawyers have already told us they won’t publish fixed fees for work that will vary widely in cost. We will be the only place consumers can go to get a bespoke quote from a range of lawyers.”
Mr Boothman said that since April he had signed up around 40 more law firms in London and the South East, where MyLegalAdviser operates.
He said the focus was mainly on family, property and private client work – particularly lease extensions and enfranchisements, probate and letters of administration, divorce, pre-nuptial agreements and custody.