My Learned Friend

Rick Yates and Chelsea Bond

A legal research website which relies on crowdsourcing and ranks content according to user ratings, launched this week.

My Learned Friend, the brainchild of Manchester marketing specialist Rick Yates and solicitor Chelsea Bond, is backed by £60,000 of funding from a local technology investor.

Mr Yates said the site was unusual both in its content, entirely contributed by users through crowdsourcing, and the way content was rated. Useful information is promoted through a ‘thumbs up’ system, while case law and legislation are subject to ‘useful/not useful’ indicators.

The site currently has research categories for 22 legal disciplines and holds case law and legislation for approximately 3,000 legal enquiries.

“Content which is highest rated shows first,” Mr Yates said. “This means our users will be more confident that it is relevant to the search they are making and allow us to charge less for people to come on board.”

He continued: “The way that lawyers seek research information has changed. People want quick access to key information, often on an enquiry specific basis. They want the assurance that other professionals view that information as relevant, and even the opportunity to weigh in on its usefulness. MLF allows us to create a useful legal community that has value and relevance for practising lawyers, as well as a real life legal knowledge pool for students and trainees.”

My Learned Friend charges £5 per month for students and £9.99 a month for professionals. There is a free one-month trial.

“We wanted a consumer-style approach where we could sign people up quite easily for a trial,” Mr Yates said. “It is difficult to know what other research providers charge because they keep it quiet.

“There no cheap prices because of who you are or what firm you come from. The only lower prices are for students. There are, on average, about 20-25,000 law students around the UK, and it is difficult for them to get real-life research information or feedback. Here they can see real-life content and debate, while contributing their own thoughts.”

Mr Yates said My Learned Friend was being developed as an app. He added that there was no specific target in terms of numbers of users, but the progress of the site would be reviewed in six months.

“It’s such a new model, that we have no target, but because it’s a crowdsourcing website, we need a good amount of people,” he added.

Mr Yates is co-director of My Learned Friend with Divyesh Lakhani, a Manchester-based techonology investor who sold his software development company, Codework, in 2010.

Managing Director of My Learned Friend, Rick Yates said: “The way that lawyers seek research information has changed. People want quick access to key information, often on an enquiry specific basis. They want the assurance that other professionals view that information as relevant, and even the opportunity to weigh in on its usefulness. MLF allows us to create a useful legal community that has value and relevance for practicing lawyers, as well as a real life legal knowledge pool for students and trainees.”

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