At the time, the site had just launched, but I caught up with founder and engineer Wes Cleveland recently to hear about new developments.
LawyerMatch is based in 1871, a co-working center for digital startups in Chicago’s historic Merchandise Mart (pictured above) – a space that offers easy access to entrepreneurs, technical experts, potential financing, and others interested in supporting small businesses.
Like many startup founders, Wes said his decision to launch LawyerMatch was based on his own experience – and the frustrations of struggling to find a lawyer easily.
In early 2013, he needed a lawyer to advise on some commercial aspects of another business matter.
“I didn’t have a personal network, or know any lawyers. I didn’t have any referrals, as the matter was quite specialized and required specific knowledge of a particular industry sector. As a technical person, my first instinct was to go to the internet. I entered a short description of what I was looking for, but nothing came back. I then waited two days trying to contact lawyers who might be suitable. I had great difficulty finding a lawyer in the Midwest with a specific concentration in the required area. The experience turned me on to the idea of developing an effective legal matching service.”
Wes, who grew up in Indianapolis and studied computer science, said that lots of the attorneys he spoke to were dissatisfied with a lot of the sites, services, and third-party products in the market that claimed to offer lead generation services.
“I talked to lots of lawyers when I was building LawyerMatch, and most of them were getting no or very few results from the existing products in the market. My thought was: can this site do some screening, and save you having to waste an hour on the phone? My aim was to create a higher quality lead with less wasted time for the buyer.”
When I asked Wes how he felt his site could differentiate itself from the many other legal directory-style sites, he said that there were plans to add new features such as an initial video consultation.
The site does work slightly differently to other similar sites.
For example, there are no monthly or yearly fees. Instead, lawyers pay a small fee when a “double match” is made – that is, when a prospective buyer finds a suitable lawyer, and in return the lawyer engages that buyer.
In the scenario above, the lawyer first approves the match (to prevent them taking on unsuitable cases), the customer accepts, and then the match is made.
The fee only kicks in at this point.
Having spoken to Wes a couple of times, he’s got energy – acting as founder, designer, and engineer to bring his product to market.
It’s good to see talented young people applying themselves to the legal sector.
Sure, there’s a lot of competing products out there, but that’s the genesis of entrepreneurialism – taking the plunge, getting your site out there, seeing if it has legs, and tweaking it as you go along.
There’s more on LawyerMatch, including some screenshots, at AngelList.