All lawyers will be able to have their profiles on the Rocket Lawyer website for free from early next year, Legal Futures can reveal.
Speaking after the official launch of the US online legal document service in the UK this week, founder Charley Moore said the company’s mission is to make law more “affordable and simple” for UK businesses and consumers. The first document selected through the site is free.
Rocket Lawyer UK has selected a group of 18 firms for its On Call panel – with two more set to sign up shortly. They are essentially the site’s preferred solicitors for users who want follow-on legal advice. As part of the agreement to join the panel, which was free to the firms, they have to offer a 33% discount on their fees and also some free advice.
Rocket Lawyer in the US also offers a facility for non-panel lawyers to publish and promote a free profile on the site as an alternative for users who do not want to go to a panel firm. It says this directory is viewed thousands of times a day. Mr Moore said it would be introduced to the UK in the first quarter of 2013.
In the US, though only 400 firms are on the On Call panel, thousands more have taken up profiles. On Call firms are checked for their credentials, insurance and consumer ratings. The number of firms on the UK panel “will certainly expand… but they will always be hand picked”, Mr Moore said.
The California lawyer – a Gulf War veteran – argued that his site is “more about data than documents”, enabling users to share documents with others and integrating its offering with social media. The number of documents available will expand “dramatically”, while there will be more free legal information published and online consultations will be “beefed up”.
Rocket Lawyer is planning an extensive online marketing campaign, along with advertising, to build the brand. The aim is to make Rocket Lawyer “a household name”, he said.
Mr Moore described LegalZoom’s legal action in the US against Rocket Lawyer – filed last week – as “frivolous”. LegalZoom alleges false and misleading advertising, trademark infringement, and unfair competition, but he said it was “clearly a competitive tactic in response to Rocket Lawyer’s growth and popularity”.
LegalZoom will shortly enter the UK market in an exclusive association with QualitySolicitors.