Recently, I had the opportunity to meet with Northeastern University Law Professor Deborah Ramirez to discuss her newest venture, JustiServ. I say “newest” because Professor Ramirez previously founded JusticeBridge, a law practice incubator with offices in Boston and New Bedford providing resources and education to new law school graduates to serve low-income clients.
As Professor Ramirez explained, she’s pursued these ventures to promote access to justice. That vision is echoed by her son, Michael Gants, who first envisioned and created JustiServ, which was informed by his own personal interfaces with the legal and healthcare systems growing up with a chronic illness. Michael speaks intimately about his experience in this TEDx talk.
JustiServ promotes access to justice by educating and then matching consumers with qualified legal counsel. Prospective clients complete questionnaires developed by practice-area experts. Then, through the algorithmic programming language used to process those questionnaires, the legal issues are parsed out and the clients are provided with a listing of attorneys that could appropriately handle their matter. By providing vetted leads to attorneys, primarily solo and small firms, JustiServ not only aims to benefit consumers, but also to help solo and small firm attorneys build their client base.
Alright, since I’ve labeled this a “review”, let me give you my impressions.
First, I applaud Ramirez and Gants for their lofty vision and goals for this venture. Although organized as a for-profit company, Professor Ramirez was clear to stress the company’s double-bottom line business philosophy – doing good while also making profit. Keeping in mind the intention and experiences of the founders, you can feel good when signing up for this service.
JustiServ is not the first “lead generation” / “lawyer referral” / “client matching” service to enter the market. Well-know players such as TotalAttorneys have been around for a while, and other services similar services like Lawdingo and UpCounsel have begun to crop up. But, JustiServe has a unique edge. It provides comparative “market” prices for legal services, defining what might be the low end versus high end for a particular service. While this aspect is certainly attractive to consumers, it might very well frieghten some practitioners. But, its a reality that all attorneys must deal with. Indeed, it may even force practitioners to take a hard look at their rates to ensure that they are set properly.
With the assistance of an impressive advisory board of thirty members and a team of programmers, Ramirez and Gants have begun to develop questionnaires for a variety of practice areas, focusing on common legal issues and services that can easily be unbundled. If this is truly the current demand of the legal market, as it very well may be, Justiserv will help attorneys refine their own services to best meet the demand.
In its infancy, I think this product has some promise for solo and small firms by providing an additional avenue to generate business without having to expend much effort. While this service can help you market directly to clients online, an increasingly difficult feat (if you want the right clients, i.e. paying clients), it doesn’t obviate building your own web presence and establishing a reputation online. Referral marketing remains the most successful form of client generation for many firms. A strong online presence can help boost those marketing efforts.
For a limited time, JustiServ is free for attorneys to join. No credit card or commitment is required. You’ll be prompted to complete a profile describing your practice, fees, and indicating what type of cases you would like to take. If you have questions, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.