State Bar of Arizona launches website that offers a new way to find a lawyer
May 1, 2018
The State Bar of Arizona has set up a free eHarmony-like matching service to pair consumers with a lawyer who best suits their issue and price point.
CEO of State Bar of Arizona John Phelps explains that in the past they had an online directory of lawyers and before that it was a paper directory. He says it’s ironic that the one thing the public associates with his organization – bringing together consumers and lawyers – was the one thing they haven’t been doing well.
“[The online directory was] really a scavenger hunt for consumers,” Phelps says. “In today’s world where there’s so much coming to consumers online and a lot of confusion on what’s legitimate and what’s not, our goal was to provide a safe harbor and use mobile technology to really help consumers match up with lawyers here in Arizona.”
The Find-A-Lawyer platform is similar to that of an online dating service. The consumer is brought to an online menu where they can enter their legal problem in non-legalese. The issue will be sent to lawyers who specialize on that type of problem. The lawyer and consumer won’t see each other until a match is made. Consumers can view different lawyers’ profiles and see their photo, background, schooling and the like. The site was made to be as transparent as possible.
“It’s designed to increase the chances of getting a good match,” Phelps says. “This is a platform that’s very much like those online applications, and is something that consumers are already comfortable with.”
Lawyers can post their fee schedule and a breakdown on how they charge. Consumers can filter their matches by setting a limit on how much they are willing to pay.
“One of the things we have learned over the years is that it’s no surprise that many folks who are living at or below the poverty line have legal needs that go unmet,” Phelps says. “There’s an awful amount of people above that who also have trouble finding lawyers at the right price point and navigating the system.”
Once the consumer chooses a lawyer and the match is made, the Bar takes a backseat. From that point, they leave it up to the consumer and lawyer to negotiate the arrangement.
The service is free to all consumers, and lawyers have to pay an annual fee of $300 to use the site. One benefit, Phelps says, is that they aren’t limited to how many clients they can be matched with through the service. Lawyers won’t have to spend as much time trying to market themselves to the community, and they won’t have to compete as much with online national companies that offer legal services.
“We really can’t vouch for the lawyers who are on those [online national] systems,” Phelps says. “We can vouch for every attorney who is in our system. It’s a much better deal than other online services offered to out lawyers… This is going to be a great boon to their market.”
The Find-A Lawyer platform was launched on Tuesday and is ready to be of use to consumers and lawyers. It can be found at AZBar.org.