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Sep 14, 2015 2:24 PM ET

Archived: Compare Legal Costs: taking the FUD (fear, uncertainty doubt) out of hiring a lawyer

iCrowdNewswire - Sep 14, 2015

Compare Legal Costs

Compare Legal Costs

The Idea

CompareLegalCosts.co.uk is taking the FUD (fear, uncertainty doubt) out of hiring a lawyer. The responsive website (works on any mobile, no download required and of course any PC or Mac) is the foundation of a network of vetted lawyers who offer their services to prospective clients at fixed fees. With two years of operations under the belt and already generating revenues, CLC not only delivers new, qualified leads to its solicitor members but is playing a part in making legal services more affordable for everyone.

There’s a (quiet) revolution occurring in the UK legal industry. Deregulation is bringing new competition, clients are demanding more transparency, especially on prices, and price/service comparison/rating websites are becoming the de rigueur way to purchase largely commoditised products, from car insurance to credit cards to moving companies to legal services.

We believe CompareLegalCosts.co.uk is the UK’s first online legal marketplace, with a growing network of law firms who offer fixed fee legal services, ranging from personal wills, conveyancing, divorce to corporate employment issues, intellectual property and even mergers and acquisitions, saving clients potentilly hundreds to thousands of pounds and opening the door for new business for solicitors across the country. Already generating revenue with a proven platform and financial model, CompareLegalCosts.co.uk is ready to scale.

The Background

“Pity the poor UK solicitor….”

After years of relative complacency afforded by high market-entry barriers, minimal competitive pressures and little visibility on prices, in 2011, the UK’s ~£25 billion legal market saw its real first disruption. The Solicitors Regulation Authority’s (SRA) adoption of the  “Alternative Business Structure,” aka the “Tesco law,” opened the door to more “one stop” law firms, new competitors and new pricing models by allowing non-lawyers to invest and own legal businesses for the first time ever in the UK.

Suddenly solicitors small and large, consumer and corporate, faced a new challenge. The Co-operative started offering fixed fee legal services to grocery shoppers. Over three hundred other firms have been licensed since the ABS was introduced in 2011.

Furthermore, commoditisation of legal services has put an increasing price pressure on traditional law firms as online conveyancing-only or probate-only specialist firms emerged, pulling their clients through Google rather than the High Street. And law became shrink-wrapped, with basic tenancy agreements and power of attorneys available literally off-the-shelf at WH Smith or free NDAs and employment contracts available online as “loss-leaders” for firms competing to attract clients.

The “good old days” for the old-boy network sees the writing on the wall, with “48% of finance directors at top-100 law firms saw the rising number of requests for fixed-fee work as a high risk to profitability – up from 29% two years ago” in a recent survey.

Even the UK government recognises the inevitability of this quiet revolution, with “Supreme Court President Lord Neuberger calls for fixed fees for lawyers as part of a ‘quick and dirty’ justice system.” With the effective death of Legal Aid, fixed fee services opens the door to legal representation to parties who may otherwise not get essential legal support.

How does CompareLegalCosts.co.uk (CLC) work?

For prospective clients, the process is simple: they register online on CLC secure platform, have their email address validated, and then enter a short form describing the legal services they require.

The CLC platform then assigns the lead to at least three member law firms who have indicated that they are interested in quoting fixed fee services for these types of cases. The law firms are notified of the prospect by email and they login to CLC to review the case. Within hours, and with commitment to respond within one business day, the law firms send their quotes to the prospect.

With at least three quotes in hand, the client can then choose to instruct one of our pre-vetted, quality member firms. The client has full transparency, and a commitment on price; the law firm has a new client they probably would not have otherwise acquired.

How does CLC make money?

For prospective clients, CLC is free. In fact, CLC also offers free legal documents, free “legal news” and free “legal chat” to prospects, driving traffic of people looking for legal advice with the most powerful word in English: “free.”

For our law firm members, there are two pricing models to participate:

  1. Law firms can pay a low “subscription fee,” that gets them on the platform, and then a revenue share on the back of any instructions received via CLC.
  2. Some firms, particularly in lower trafficked but potentially very valuable areas of law such as intellectual property, can participate on a revenue-share basis only.

Law firms are quite accustomed to paying for “leads” and frequently budget for this in their plans and we have also found that “revenue share” is a welcome form of compensation. Our “subscription fee” generally comes out of their marketing budgets, amounting to the same as the cost of 3-4 cappuccinos per week.

What problems does CLC solve?

Solicitors have generally stayed away from “marketing” per se. But in this new competitive landscape, they are seeing lucrative business opportunities going to new competitors that are no strangers to fighting to win their customers. CLC gives our members not only qualified leads, but a platform, and support, to help our members differentiate themselves in a competitive marketplace.

Prospective clients can now seek legal services without the fear of “intimidation” that is often accompanied with talking to a lawyer. The quotation process is free (and quick and easy) and the price to deliver the services is fixed. This is a huge relief to both the first time consumer client and the legal procurement professional on the corporate side.

What have we achieved to date?

After a long beta period with a number of tests of business model/pricing strategies, CLC is now generating revenue and delivering leads to our member base.

The CLC website is responsive, so a single technology platform functions properly across desktops and mobiles (over 30% of our traffic today is mobile based). And it has a simple backend, for making website changes to monitoring both client and solicitor activity.

We generate cost-effective traffic, from an on-going SEO effort, via carefully managed Google adwords campaigns and leveraging a robust CRM system.

Our two-person business development team are already landing approximately two new firms per week.

Our vision and need for funding

We agree with the Guardian that said “What the market needs is Tripadvisor-style sites (plus online sources of reliable information signposting them towards trusted sources of help) so that people can make an informed decision. There’s not much point in competition if you can’t make a choice. Expect more.”

We can also see huge potential in just the “inner-directed” client base searching through Google for literally thousands of keywords. We can reach qualified prospects for any sort of legal service in any geographic area.

Your investment in CLC will enable us to scale both lawyer acquisition and prospect traffic, quickly ramping revenues. The investment will also be applied to new platform developments, so CLC can become a broader “marketplace” for legal services in the UK… and beyond with geographical expansion planned in US, Canada and Australia.

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