I am a sole practitioner here in Toronto. I established my practice straight after articling and getting called to the bar (June 2008). People like me often don’t know where their next client is going to come from (typically referrals). But I started getting a client here and there from craiglist.org (I would just respond to individuals who were posting their legal problems).
That gave me an idea: I wanted to come up with a website like www.craigslist.org but which focuses on legal services.
That’s why I created Dynamic Legal Forms.
The idea is simple: allow ordinary people to freely and anonymously explain, through an online post (which can be public or private), why they need a lawyer and then receive quick and multiple e-mail responses and quotes from local lawyers. For their part, lawyers specializing in the legal areas sought after would be able to directly and effectively market their services to the public. I believe that this website will simultaneously satisfy two pressing needs by bringing prospective lawyers and clients together.
While the idea is not necessarily new (see www.craigslist.org, www.kijiji.ca, www.lawyerahead.ca, www.canlaw.com, etc.), the way we are going about it is different. We are focusing initially on Toronto. We are focusing on certain legal areas (i.e. high volume transactions with fixed costs). We are not going to litter the website with ads or peripheral services. We are focusing solely on “Need a Toronto Lawyer? Make a Post. Get FREE Quotes!. We are not trying to be everything to everyone. Nor is this service going to be expensive for lawyers who wish to register: we’ve been giving lawyers 2 months free to try it out and we only charge $30 per month after that. My motivation is simple: I don’t like being charged a lot (particularly since it cost me about $15,000-$20,000 to set up my practice with no advertising), so I don’t want to charge individuals in my position a lot either. Finally, the website is going to be very much like a cross between www.google.ca and www.craigslist.ca (clean, simple, and easy to navigate).
Lawyers who have an account also receive new posts in their e-mails and will be able to instantly respond. The posts are e-mailed out to lawyers based on certain criteria – namely, their geographic area (e.g. Toronto), legal area (e.g. criminal law), and matter (e.g. theft under $5,000). I figure that lawyers like me don’t have all the time in the world to roam the net or the website for clients, so why not just get notifications in my inbox when a new post has been made?