The company that says it was the first in the UK to provide free online legal advice for both businesses and consumers is to launch its first law firm panel for referrals – although it will not charge for them.
Compact Law, which launched in 1996, offers online legal documents and packs alongside advice on common areas of law, and director Patrick D’Alton Hamilton said these generate a number of requests for legal help every day.
Until now Compact Law has operated an informal free case referral service, but Mr Hamilton said the plan now is to formalise it and give clients greater choice by building a panel. Initially referrals will remain free – “we don’t believe in referral fees,” he said – but in time some kind of fixed cost not related to individual cases may be introduced.
“It benefits us to be able to say to people who come to our website that we can find them a lawyer,” he explained.
There will also be a dedicated website which he hoped would generate more requests for referrals. Mr Hamilton added: “We like to refer cases to actual lawyers, rather than sending cases to the firm or chambers, for them to allocate. We are also looking for lawyers within independent firms, not existing marketing groups.”
Compact Law carries out a brief assessment of all requests for referral – dealing with any simple queries internally. If the case needs referral, the company e-mails around eight suitable lawyers within the network to see if they are interested. As they e-mail back, their direct contact details are passed to the client, and the lawyer is told the name of the client.
Mr Hamilton said: “We operate on a first-come first-served basis. So when a lawyer responds, we tell them if they are the first lawyer to respond or how many have responded before them. We obsess over finding a suitable lawyer quickly; in the vast majority of cases we can do this same-day, and in many cases within an hour.”
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