Toronto startups launch online directories to match lawyers with clients
Two Toronto startups say they hope to revolutionize the way Canadians seek out legal services, launching online portals that resemble dating services but are meant to match clients with lawyers, not lovers.
While most big law firms have sophisticated websites, many small firms and solo lawyers – those that help most people draft wills, buy their first home or get a divorce – still have clunky homemade-looking presences online. Some have no website at all. However, as with everything else these days, when many people start looking for a lawyer, they increasingly look online.
It’s this gap that both Kabuk Law and LawyerLinx are trying to fill. Both companies are among the very first projects housed in Ryerson University’s Legal Innovation Zone, an “incubator” for legal technology startups that is headed by Chris Bentley, the former attorney-general of Ontario.
The websites are still in their early stages, and their founders acknowledge they will only realize their full potential when a critical mass of lawyers has signed up.
The entrepreneurs behind the sites say their aim is to improve upon existing Web-based directories for lawyers, such as Lawyer Locate, the dominant site in Canada. In the United States, FindLaw, owned by Thomson Reuters – whose parent company is a majority owner of The Globe and Mail – provides a searchable directory of lawyers. U.S.-based Avvo allows users to ask legal questions, get legal help on the phone and search a directory of U.S. lawyers.