Online Directories to Link Toronto Lawyers with Clients
Hoping to change the way average Canadians seek legal services, two Toronto startups have partnered to launch online portals designed to match clients-in-need with qualified lawyers in their area. These portals are meant to function just like many of today’s popular online dating sites, such as Tinder and OkCupid.

Of course, the largest firms most likely have well-established websites, but their less sizable competitors, as well as lawyers operating independently, often struggle to maintain a quality online presence. These smaller firms and solo lawyers are often the ones people turn to for help drafting wills, purchasing their first home, or getting a divorce. But with a lack of online presence, clients will be hard-pressed to find quality legal assistance in an era where most begin their search online.

LawyerLinx

The projects recently launched by Kabuk Law and LawyerLinx are among the first to be housed in Ryerson University’s Legal Innovation Zone, the legal tech startup incubator program headed by Chris Bentley, the former attorney general of Ontario.

Both platforms are still in their infancy, and their focus, in order to reach their potential, is directed towards bringing a ‘critical mass’ of lawyers on board. To do so, the companies will have to improve upon the online directory services already offered by companies like Lawyer Locate.

LawyerLinx will use a careful algorithm that matches clients with a selection of suitable lawyers. The client fills out a quick questionnaire that helps the algorithm understand their specific needs and provide nearby options for legal advice.

The platform, which was founded by Edyta Kowalewska, an associate at the small Toronto firm Morrison Brown Sosnovitch LLP, also questions the user about how much they’d like to spend and whether they prefer to pay an hourly rate or fixed fee.

Kowalewska’s motivation for developing the platform stemmed from her belief that consumers deserved more clear means for finding lawyers and reading up on briefings focused on various specific areas of the legal field. “I really wanted to create a place that would inform and empower consumers,” Kowalewska said.

Kabuk Law

The Kabuk platform was initially launched to give users assistance finding healthcare professionals, including chiropractors, nutritionists, and physiotherapists. But their most recent soft-launch debuted a new version designed to cater specifically to lawyers. If they wish to be listed, lawyers will need to pay a $100 monthly listing fee.

After clients use the site to find lawyers in their area, they can also book appointments then and there. While the site plans on displaying recommendations from certain verified clients, lawyers will supposedly be able to opt out of this service if they desire.

According to Asha Soares, co-founder of Kabuk, the site will offer much more than a simple Google search for the best lawyers in your region. “When you go to Google search results,” says Soares, “you get the people that have paid for, or spent time and money on SEO and Google adverts, not necessarily the people who are the best fit for your needs.”

The Need for ‘Something Different’

Although these new platforms will face stiff competition from the established directory offered by Lawyer Locate, as well as number of lawyers using Facebook and Twitter to find paying clients, they can still find success if they can offer something unique or innovative, according to Samantha Collier, a West Vancouver-based consultant who advises lawyers and law firms on social-media marketing. “I would say it [will be] competitive for them,” Collier continued. “They need to find a niche.”

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Posted by: DSR
Wednesday, July 1, 2015
Tag: Legal
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