A website that connects the public directly with barristers is the latest legal business to seek crowdfunding after it launched a bid to raise £150,000 in expansion capital.
The site, myBarrister, wants to sign up 1,000 barristers by the end of the year, a near 10-fold increase on where it is today.
Since launching in June 2013, more than 100 barristers have paid the £1,200 flat fee to join the site. It is a pure marketing service, and once a potential client makes contact with their chosen barrister, myBarrister steps out.
According to founder and barrister Ronald DeKoven, at current levels of traffic subscribers receive on average more than one instruction a month.
Bruce Webster, myBarrister’s director of branding and marketing, said: “We want to dramatically accelerate our growth now that we’ve proved the concept.”
Investors on Crowdcube can put in anything from £10 to £100,000 – or more – and enjoy various tax benefits; the company is putting up 3.75% of its equity. Barrister investors receive discounts on the annual subscription.
Mr DeKoven, who is also qualified in New York, said that as well as growing the panel, the money will be used to expand myBarrister’s call centre to handle the increasing number of enquiries, as well as invest in more advertising and public relations.
This approach to funding would both create more barrister registrations and more potential clients, he added. According to the pitch on Crowdcube, Mr DeKoven made the initial £300,000 investment to get myBarrister off the ground.
Describing barristers as “the smartest, fastest lawyers you can find”, Mr Webster said the barrister brand was a “powerful” one when put against “faceless” advice services, “vast factory-type operations” or high-priced solicitor offerings. There are also plans to expand the service to other Commonwealth countries later this year.
The pitch said the founders are looking for an exit in 18-24 months, either through a private equity sale or listing on AIM.
Any requirements for solicitor-type work is referred to LawBite, an online legal business that itself recently sought to raise £120,000 through Crowdcube and ended up taking in £168,390 from 181 investors, the biggest of which put in £22,500. Similarly LawBite refers advocacy work to myBarrister.
Mr DeKoven said: “Our online marketing campaign is driving clients to our state-of-the-art website, where they can search for and get in direct contact with exactly the barrister they need. With additional funding we can significantly accelerate our progress while providing the market with a safe, alternative form of investment.”