Finding a lawyer to consult with remains an intimidating proposition for many consumers. They don’t know who to call or what it might cost them.
A new website called Pro Help Legal aims to address that problem by offering near-instant access to video chat with a lawyer, with clear disclosure in advance of the cost of the consultation.
The client seeking help answers two questions — legal issue and state of residence — and is presented with a list of matching lawyers.
Each lawyer’s profile shows what the lawyer charges for a consultation, if anything, and the lawyer’s areas of practice and experience.
Once the client selects a lawyer, if the lawyer is currently online, the client can request an immediate meeting. If the lawyer is not online, the client can use the calendar on the lawyer’s profile to schedule a meeting.
Lawyers pay nothing to be on the platform and set the amount of their consultation fees. Some offer free consultations, others charge anywhere from $1 to $75 for a 15-minute consultation.
Clients must purchase a “Connection Credit” for each call at a cost of $7.99, plus pay any fee the attorney charges.
Launched Last Month
The site just launched last month and so far has only a handful of attorneys signed up. But founders Josh Cordova and James Dorman told me that they plan to make a push to get more attorneys on the site, while putting their emphasis on the quality of the attorneys they recruit, rather than the quantity.
They have already started to see strong consumer interest in the site, they said, and they will be running ads on Google to bring in more traffic.
Dorman, an attorney in Meridian, Idaho, and Cordova, a business executive and consultant, met while both were in the M.B.A. program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
They started planning the site after a client wondered aloud to Dorman why it wasn’t possible for a client to just swipe a credit card and talk to a lawyer.
They were also aware that a number of attorneys are looking for more business but don’t have efficient ways to find clients. “I’ve met attorneys who are driving Uber just to make ends meet,” Dorman said.
Free for Attorneys
With Pro Help Legal, it is free for an attorney to sign up and create a profile. Attorneys get access to a dashboard where they can set their consultation fees and calendar their availability.
When a client books an available time slot, Pro Help Legal notifies the attorney by text, and the attorney can return to the dashboard to see details.
Attorneys can also set their profiles for instant availability. If an attorney is in the office with no scheduled meetings, for example, the attorney can go to the dashboard and indicate that the attorney is currently available.
Pro Help Legal processes the client’s payment in advance of the meeting. Payments are processed through Stripe Payment Processing, which takes a processing fee, with the remainder paid to the attorney.
Attorneys and clients are free to extend the length of a consultation. If a client purchased a 15-minute consultation and wants to continue for an additional 15 minutes, the attorney can decide whether to charge and have any charge processed immediately.
Attorneys and clients are also free to enter into engagements, and attorneys have the option of processing flat-fee payments through the platform. However, any further dealings between the attorney and client would happen off the platform.
For video meetings between attorneys and clients, the platform uses Amazon Chime, which Cordova said they chose for its stability and security. Video meetings are not recorded and there is no option to record them, by design.
They say they are the only lawyer-client videoconferencing platform offering 256-bit encrypted video connections.
Lawyers who list on the site are required to have their own malpractice insurance.
The challenge for a site such as this when it launches is building up a core of both lawyers who are listed on the site and potential clients coming to the site.
But if Pro Help Legal is able to do that, then what it offers is a win-win for consumers and lawyers, offering consumers an easier and more transparent way to connect with a lawyer, and offering lawyers a new source of potential clients and perhaps even a way to pick up a couple consulting fees on a quiet afternoon.