PALO ALTO — Clients are demanding fixed-fee services and balking at the hourly rates charged by large law firms. For Big Law, it’s a problem. But a trio of entrepreneurs saw opportunity.
“We are responding to what clients are asking for—simple, transparent fixed-fee pricing—to align incentives with lawyers who are looking to use technology to reduce the amount of time spent on a common legal matter,” said CEO Tony Lai, a graduate of Stanford Law’s LLM program and one of the three cofounders of LawGives. The team is rounded out by Chief Operating Officer Pieter Gunst, a former assistant GC at Survey Monkey who previously practiced law in Brussels for DLA Piper, and resident tech geek, Chief Technology Officer Daniel Lo.
They are not the first high-tech interlopers to target the traditional avenues for matching potential clients with lawyers—and the traditional fee structures. LegalZoom, RocketLawyer, UpCounsel, LegalForce and DocRun offer similar platforms, though some of the upstarts focus more on legal document generation than accessing counsel.
Attorneys who use LawGives will eventually pay a subscription fee, but those who join before May 1 will receive free access for one year.
LawGives, which was founded in 2011, has tested its platform with attorneys at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, Cooley, Fenwick & West and about 50 solo and boutique firms focused on corporate, intellectual property and immigration work for startups. It’s geared toward “lawyers who are looking to make unbundled services an important part of their practices,” said Lai.
Edward Bachand, who recently left Dorsey & Whitney’s Palo Alto office to set up his own IP boutique, is using the service to build his book of clients.
Big law firms may be more reluctant to embrace the platform, said Roland Vogl, executive director of the Stanford Program in Law, Science and Technology and cofounder of the Center for Legal Informatics (CodeX). Still, he added, “lots of partners at firms are fairly autonomous in the things they do.”
“If there’s a platform that brings you clients, and you don’t have to do much, other than sign up, that’s a strong reason for folks to give it a try,” he said.
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