I spoke to Kid Harwood, Director at LawBid, to learn more about the new LawBid service which matches clients with an appropriate solicitor. Wildings Solicitors, the 30 year old firm which created LawBid, was recently nominated for the Law Firm Innovation Award at the Manchester Legal Awards in recognition of the innovative ideas that LawBid is bringing to the legal market.
LawBid is a legal matchmaking service that connects business and individuals with specialist solicitors. The system offers both transparency and choice to clients and a proactive method for solicitors to secure new client instructions. LawBid has plans to roll out a range of subsidiary legal services to enhance usability for solicitor members, and will continue to offer a user experience that clients cannot get elsewhere.
Value to clients of legal services
For LawBid the user experience is paramount. It provides clients with the opportunity to post the details of their legal matter, interact with multiple specialist solicitors in their chosen geographical area and agree on a fee upfront. It’s aim is to be simple, quick and transparent.
LawBid connects users with solicitors who provide a variety of services including: business services, debt recovery, employment, family and divorce, immigration, litigation, motoring and criminal offences, personal injury, property, tax, welfare benefits and wills & probate.
The solicitor and client then speak over the phone, or meet in person, once the right fee and the right service have been agreed upon by both parties. Having all the initial interaction between the client and solicitor take place on a secure user portal saves time for everyone involved.
One client commented “It’s hard to know where to start when it comes to finding a law firm that provides good value, particularly in London. I googled “commercial law firm”, but invariably the biggest firms with the best SEO are at the top and they are often the most expensive. LawBid took the hassle out of it and let the solicitors bid for my work”.
Feedback and client satisfaction play an important role in the LawBid system. Once matched with a solicitor, clients are able to use LawBid to leave ratings and reviews about the service they received from their chosen solicitor. The aim of this is to allow users to make more informed decisions when choosing a solicitor.
Value to solicitors
Solicitors receive email notifications whenever a case that meets their specific criteria is posted. They can then communicate with potential clients through the LawBid portal, to find out further information about their requirements and expectations.
The system is beneficial to solicitors as it provides a proactive and cost effective way of securing new client instructions. Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is increasingly competitive within the legal sector and with such high cost per click on legal search terms, many firms are keen to find alternative ways to stay ahead of the competition online in business development.
LawBid’s annual subscriptions packages cost a fraction of what many firms might pay each year on PPC and instead of sending traffic, LawBid sends law firms vetted client instructions within the specialisms that they select.
Solicitors seem pleased with the service. “With LawBid I was able to use my free view to bid on a number of potential instructions and judging by the quality of the leads and the cost of subscription I went on to purchase the Premium Subscription” Satnam Talwar, Partner and Head of Litigation, Milestone Solicitors.
All firms who register to the service receive the first case completely free of charge. Following this solicitors can purchase one of the subscription packages to continue using the system. Subscriptions start from as little as £295 per year and the flexible Enterprise subscription allows firms with multiple branches and users to build a package that suits their requirements.
So far the reaction from both solicitor and client users has been promising. Since the initial launch in August 2016 it has attracted 160 solicitor firms including large firms in Manchester such as JMW, to Gunnercooke in London and Balfour & Manson in Aberdeen.
The popularity amongst the general public was encouraging and that initial popularity in England and Wales prompted LawBid to expand into Scotland and Northern Ireland.
LawBid plans to expand the services available to solicitor subscribers. It is also developing a barrister finding service. It plans to make further subsidiary products and services accessible through the site to enhance the solicitor experience such as professional indemnity insurance.
It is constantly improving the website to meet the needs of the users, taking on board user feedback to enhance the user experience and streamline the service. Most recently it has overhauled the website completely to improve the user experience and now provides a range of supporting information on a variety of legal topics. Long term plans include app development and expansion of the LawBid model into countries outside of the UK.
The future of the legal profession
Harwood concluded “Technology will be paramount to the future of the legal profession. The internet has had an undeniable effect on consumer demand. Today’s consumer has come to expect choice, simplicity and transparency when searching for services or products online. To keep up with the changing habits of potential clients, the profession must be prepared to adapt”.
“However, the increasing impact of technology on the legal sector is not confined to the way that clients access services, but instead stretches to the ways in which firms function and clients receive legal advice. Artificial Intelligence (AI) has the potential to make a seismic impact on the industry. With AI ‘SmartApps’ already providing instant analysis on complex issues that would otherwise require huge amounts of time and effort from a solicitor, the positive effects of new technologies are already being experienced by a select, but growing, number in the legal sector”.
Trying out the system
I thought I’d give it a go. The LawBid web site presents two easy options “I am a solicitor” or “I need a solicitor”. I then had to choose a “matter” (legal terminology there) from a drop down list and provided a brief description of my matter.
I admit I was a little concerned about confidentiality at this point. But I was reassured that dealing with delicate legal matters means that security and confidentiality is a priority and that all personal contact details that are entered onto the LawBid system are kept confidential until a user accepts a bid on their case. Initially, solicitors can only view the first name and the case description/requirements that users enter. Lawbid also vets every case that is submitted to the portal. As well as doing this to assure quality and relevance for solicitors, it vets client cases to ensure that no personal information about the client user’s identity is given away.
Then it required me to enter my name and email and a password to create an account. It looked up my address but when I pressed submit it warned me that the information marked in red needed attention. I couldn’t find the error so gave up. A second attempt was more successful and it said that an email had been sent for me to verify my account. Interestingly, I received a follow up email a few days later noting that my case had not been accepted by a solicitor and suggesting that I provide more details of my requirements.
From my perspective, there have been systems before that have provided law firms with a source of enquiries. Whilst outsourcing your marketing and business development is a good and easy way to generate work in the short term, there is always the concern that outsourcing to a third party could leave a firm vulnerable in the future should the cost of obtaining work this way increase. Personal injury lawyers were affected adversely by some such schemes. But it’s a strategic and commercial decision for the solicitor subscribers. It will be interesting to see how LawBid progresses in the future
Wildings Solicitors http://wildings-solicitors.co.uk/ Manchester, Birmingham and nationwide
LawBid Platform https://lawbid.co.uk/