A new service has been launched that allows solicitors to contact numerous sets of barristers chambers simultaneously to check what counsel are available for a case they are looking to cover.
Meanwhile, another online service aimed at helping consumers find tradesmen is now targeting the legal market.
Barristerlink  is free to solicitors and is paid for by chambers, which pay a monthly marketing fee once they have become members. Free to register at the moment, 15 sets with 618 barristers – including 62 QCs – have so far signed up.
A solicitor with a case to cover completes an online form with the basic case details which is then e-mailed to all chambers which are registered for the category of work in that part of the country. Solicitors can also select the seniority of counsel.
They can ask chambers to quote a fee for the case if the matter is privately funded, or alternatively they can propose a fee, and see what counsel and level of experience the various chambers can offer.
Chambers respond to the e-mail enquiry and the solicitor – whose identity is not revealed – can choose whether to instruct any of them.
Founder Carole-Ann Markham said the service was “picking up on the
fact that sometimes solicitors may not be too impressed with who they’ve been offered.” She added: “It saves an enormous amount of time contacting numerous chambers by phone or e-mail and allows solicitors to compare the responses they get back”.
Meanwhile, Checkatrade  – a website that began in 1998 to offer consumers details of tradespeople who have been vetted and then monitored through customer feedback to give them third-party validation – is to launch Checkaprofessional . Checkatrade has collected around 555,000 customer reports since it began.
To become Checkaprofessional members, firms complete a vetting procedure, and agree to be monitored through client feedback and adhere to the Checkaprofessional code of conduct. Members receive their own web page for their profile, contact details and record of client feedback.
Business development manager Lisa Beale said that around a third of all client feedback is verified by the site.
She said: “As Checkatrade has grown it has become clear that the public wanted a similar model for professional services. The average consumer is so confused about where they should go and what they should expect [from legal services].
“We wanted to give professionals a way to market their services to potential new clients and bridge the trust gap by providing a platform where they can be found online and their services evaluated independently.”
There is an introductory offer of £599 a year for firms signing up to the site at the moment.