Most of us have sought legal advice at one time or another. And one of the first things we think about when we look for a lawyer, is how much does hiring a lawyer cost? Most times, we have no idea. We get quotes by calling a lawyer from the Yellow Pages, or by doing a Google search or even Craigslist. But the quotes are usually all over the map and we have no idea how good the lawyers are.
Well, today, the frustration of figuring out how much legal services cost is now becoming demystified thanks to AttorneyFee.com. AttorneyFee, a startup from Chicago, attempts to provide transparency on lawyer prices by providing a platform that solves this problem by giving people an easy way to share information about the cost of legal services.
In a nutshell, AttorneyFee provides a pricing list of lawyers in a particular area of law in your local area. For example a search for real estate closing lawyers in the Chicago area retrieves a list of lawyers and their flat fee rates. The user can further limit the search by fee, experience of the lawyers, and the distance of the lawyer to you.
According to AttorneyFee, they have assembled the most comprehensive resource on legal pricing in the world, with more than 20,000 pricing points in their index from thousands of attorneys across the country. The AttorneyFee index is built on living data, meaning every day, new prices are added and old prices are replaced. With their large volume of data, AttorneyFee claims they can easily track moving averages, identify trends, and provide more quantitative market insights than any other player in the industry.
AttorneyFee gets its prices through scrubbing the web for lawyer prices, such as lawyer websites. Lawyers themselves, however, can register at AttorneyFee to advertise their price. Lawyers can also update any of their prices at any time. Consumers who have hired or consulted with a lawyer can also contribute the pricing information to AttorneyFee. What if there is a pricing conflict between a consumer and a lawyer? In that event, the policy of AttorneyFee is to assign greater credibility to the price submitted by the attorney.
AttorneyFee was founded by BeiBei Que, Richard Komaiko, and Stephen Kloder. Richard Komaiko is responsible for business development and the promotion of AttorneyFee. BeiBei Que is responsible for all front end design and development. Stephen Kloder is responsible for all back end design and development. However, in my conversation with Richard and BeiBei, they said they routinely strategize as a team and would feed off each other’s ideas.
AttorneyFee was inspired when BeiBei Que, while working as an associate at a small law firm in New Jersey, saw how frustrated clients were in finding out the attorney fees and costs, when she noticed that every client’s first question was about how much her firm charged. Seeing an opportunity to provide a service to customers that was not being served, at least not in a transparent fashion, BeiBei called her good friend Richard, who she has known since their University of Illinois days, to launch AttorneFee.
“There is a huge oversupply of lawyers in the US right now. The market is ripe for a service or a resource declaring transparency and pushing the industry towards a flat fee,” explained Beibei Que.
Prior to AttorneyFee, BeiBei and Richard collaborated before when they travelled to China and wrote a book called, “Lawyers in Modern China”, a book that explores factors that contribute to the current state of underdevelopment of the legal profession, including weak demand for legal service, among the many other problems the Chinese legal profession faces today.
AttorneyFee is consumer based and is free for consumers to use. Lawyers are encouraged to register to compete and offer their services. There is no user comment or rating scale, like a Yelp, but some of the lawyers are rated by Avvo, a Q&A forum website where people can ask legal and health questions of lawyers and doctors. But AttorneyFee does have plans to make lawyer selections more qualitative for the consumer. “We plan to add success outcome data on a lawyer-by-lawyer basis to enable users to measure quality quantitatively,” said BeiBei Que.
AttorneyFee does say that while providing price transparency for customers in their search for lawyers is valuable and needed, they admit the price of legal services is highly nuanced. That said, Richard and BeiBei believe that by providing a platform and forum for consumers to compare, consumers now at least have a starting point, whereas before they had no ball park to start with.
AttorneyFee is located in Chicago and is funded by angel investors. For more information about AttornyFee, visit their website here.
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