A new Web site for pairing consumers with attorneys will be rolled out at the American Bar Association annual meeting in New York this week, although it will not formally launch to consumers until September. Called WhoCanISue.com, it is being developed by a Florida lawyer-turned-entrepreneur named Curtis Wolfe. The site is not yet operating, but background materials say it will be different from other lawyer-client matching sites in that it will mimic the way consumers naturally use the Web.

They call the process “browse, learn and connect.” Rather than require consumers to disclose information about themselves and their claim up front, the site will allow them to browse content designed to help them learn more about their potential causes of action. Once they’ve done that, they can learn whether they may be qualified for a particular claim by following a “path” of up to 10 questions. That will lead them to a final point where they will be presented with the names of up to five lawyers in their locality who handle claims similar to theirs.

If they wish, they will then be able to connect with one of the attorneys via instant messaging or phone, or ask that the attorney contact them. The attorneys listed on those pages get placed through a process of real-time bidding for ad placements delivered to users. Here is how the announcement explains it:

“WhoCanISue.com does not generate ‘leads’ to potential clients, a method commonly used in online legal marketing that violates ethical rules governing most attorneys’ advertising. Instead, WhoCanISue.com’s patent pending model allows attorneys to bid on real-time ad placements — usually limited to five attorneys — delivered to users who have completed question paths to determine their qualification for a particular claim. The user then reviews the profiles of the attorneys and can initiate an instant message or telephone call with the attorney, or can request that the firm contact the user about his or her claim.”

Founder Wolfe was a partner with Miami’s Steel Hector & Davis before its 2005 merger with Squire Sanders & Dempsey. He left in 2004 to become general counsel of Ener1 Group Inc. in Fort Lauderdale. In 2006, he founded mRevolution, a company that develops technology for affiliate marketing and lead generation.

  • I went to the site to test Wolfe’s claims. I picked a category and clicked on the find a lawyer button to see if they really are trying to weed out frivolous lawsuits. I entered answers I know from experience add-up to a frivolous case. Sure enough they told me I didn’t have a case. I still don’t love the name but at least clients who try to find a lawyer through this site won’t get through unless they really have a legitimate case. The “path” I went through was for criminal defense because that’s what I do. I’d be curious to know if anyone else who does something else can replicate my results?