Elevator Pitch: Lawchoice

Elevator Pitch is a regular feature on Lifehacker where we profile startups and new companies and pick their brains for entrepreneurial advice. This week, we're talking with Chris Roche from Lawchoice.

In 128 words or less, explain your business idea.

People looking for a lawyer generally search on Google, which brings back many results and you still have no idea if the law firms listed in the search results are any good. This is a problem, and Lawchoice exists to solve it.

Lawchoice is a nation-wide Australian online law firm comparison and client referral service which ranks and reviews law firms.

People type in their problem in www.lawchoice.com.au and are matched with up to three good law firms who ring the person and pitch for the business.

Current and former clients of law firms can rate and review them online. This benefits other members of the public who are looking for a law firm. The Lawchoice motto is 'Help us help others, just like you'.

What strategies are you using to grow and finance your idea?

We use social media and blogs like most online businesses, however the main strategy we employ to grow is by actively crawling the web and business registers to ensure we have up to date details of every law firm in Australia. This has significant impact on our web presence. About 90% of our web-traffic comes from Google searches and the other 10% is referral traffic from social media and other sources.

We also grow by reinvesting 50% of our membership fees into public awareness campaigns. We also find that as the nature of our website promotes word of mouth, our users end up promoting our service through word of mouth also.

The way we see it, the more people we can make aware of Lawchoice, the more referrals we will be sending out to law firms and the more buy-in we get from them -- which in turn funds further marketing to generate even more public awareness.

Currently, Lawchoice is privately funded and significant further development is planned.

What's the biggest challenge facing your business?

The biggest challenge is encouraging people who have used the services of a law firm to take the time to write an online review of their experience. To help members of the public make an informed decision about choosing the best law firm for their needs, we need as many former clients of law firms as possible to write an online review.

With the advent of the internet, power is now in the hands of the consumer, who can help raise the standard of Australian law firms and increase competition between them, by spending a couple of minutes rating and reviewing their experiences with the law firm they hired.

Good, cost effective and honest firms benefit the most through an increase in clients. The public benefits by reading the ratings and reviews and comparing quality and efficiency of services, reasonableness of fees and reputations.

How do your differentiate your business from your competitors?

Our focus is primarily on obtaining reviews of law firms and matching people in need with suitable and well regarded law firms, as opposed to simply being an unmanned legal directory. Our CEO has extensive experience in the running of small and large law firms and understands this niche market extremely well. Our team is passionate about making a positive difference to the Australian legal profession and the way in which law firms are selected -- promoting merit over large advertising budgets. We provide the public a service which enables them to visit one place to compare all of their options for legal representation based on past client experiences, including legal aid.

Let's face it, going to a lawyer is like going to the doctor, dentist, or undertaker. You are only there if you have to be. But how do you know which law firm suits you best? At Lawchoice, our team is passionate about providing a service which helps the Australian public make an informed decision about which law firm to use through reviews.

What one phone, tablet or PC application could you not live without?

The app I couldn't live without is TripAdvisor. Whenever and wherever I travel, I rely on the ratings and reviews of hotels, before I book any accommodation. The reviews of other members of the public are invaluable and rarely if ever, have I made a poor choice by relying on these reviews.

TripAdvisor has been the catalyst for the Lawchoice service and we are determined to provide the same opportunity for members of the public who need the services of a quality law firm. We need members of the public who have used the services of a law firm in the past to support this initiative for it will help other people who need a good lawyer but do not know where to turn or who to trust.

What's the best piece of business advice you've ever received?

"Leave emotion at the door". When things go wrong and in particular, when you feel you have been wronged, do not react immediately, but take 24 hours before you respond. Things are far clearer when you have had a good night's sleep and have taken the emotion out of the situation.

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Comments

    Who pays membership fees? Lawyers? The FAQ on their site says it's a free service and that lawyers don't pay them a fee for referring customers.

    Do they give preferential treatment to lawyers with membership when displaying results? Because this article seems to suggest they are tracking all law firms, not just ones paying.

      Currently, Lawchoice is privately funded and significant further development is planned.

      Last edited 10/06/15 11:28 am

      Hi Darren. At the moment there is no preferential treatment with our referral service. Lawyers can pay to have their listing featured higher in the search results which may result in more users contacting them, but when it comes to referrals our method is to refer matters to 3 firms for the client to choose from. Right now, we select them purely based on merit. Eventually, we will make one of the 3 a preferred member but they will still be competing against 2 other firms. This will be required to keep our model sustainable but the end of the day the client will always have a choice. We want to provide a valuable public service. So yes there is the option for lawyers to pay a subscription fee but there are no fees or kickbacks associated with any referrals we issue. Integrity is something we take very seriously and need to maintain it to protect the consumer. If you have any other questions I'm more than happy to help!

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