Legably Connects Freelance Lawyers With Law Firms
Law firms have always made a living in a difficult business environment that includes fluctuating workloads, diverse client needs, and projects that can require extremely specialized legal skill sets.
The inevitable operational inefficiencies that come with these problems are an unfortunate but bearable reality for large law firms, which typically have corporate clients providing steady work. But attorneys running small and medium sized firms and solo practitioners, all of whom manage varying caseloads, feel the pain as they’re forced to choose between hiring temporary attorneys or passing on cases altogether.
On the other side of the industry, each year thousands of young lawyers still dizzy from the bar exam are rejected from full-time positions and told they don’t have enough experience. Even many experienced lawyers are constantly looking for additional work on the side or in the fields they specialize in.
All of these pain points make for an industry primed for disruption. That’s why Dan Reilly, who at 28 already has firsthand experience with each of these problems, is launching Legably.
Legably is an online platform that helps lawyers connect with firms and solo practitioners to find and manage contract work. With a soft launch planned for the end of August, Reilly hopes to improve a flawed system by using an approach familiar to startups in every sector: increase efficiency by creating an on-demand service that automates processes and offers a standardized source for users to easily find what they’re looking for.
“We’re providing freelance lawyers on a more flexible basis and at a cheaper price point to other lawyers and firms that have fluctuating client needs but can’t pay for full-time employees,” Reilly says.
Reilly had the idea for Legably last year as he was representing a client who needed legal work done in South Carolina. Without knowing anyone in the area, he was reduced to Google searching lawyers and vetting them on his own. After finding someone and agreeing to contract terms, he had to create and send an invoice to his client.
It was a cumbersome experience that’s been shared by lawyers everywhere who get overwhelmed by lawyer-search services of varying quality and still use less-than-ideal means of collaboration like email and Google Docs.
With Legably, lawyers create a basic profile that includes their bar information (which Legably verifies) and any documents they want to include such as a resume and writing samples. Lawyers can also include practice areas they specialize in and specific skills they bring to the table like drafting contracts or conducting research.
Firms or attorneys looking to post work can search freelance lawyers by state, area of specialty, skills and more.
“When someone posts a job, lawyers bid on it and their interest appears as an alert to the attorney who posted the work,” Reilly explains. “Then you can message the attorney or vice versa to get more information and come up with an appropriate cost for the job.”
Once the terms have been agreed to, the hiring attorney sends Legably the money, it’s held until the completion of the project and then direct deposited into the freelancer’s account.
After the project, lawyers will be able to leave reviews and rate each other, providing further means of vetting attorneys for future projects.
“As more lawyers use the platform we anticipate other lawyers will provide information on them, so the marketplace will get smarter and the best people will rise to the top,” Reilly says.
Legably is different from other lawyer review services in that it is only visible to other attorneys, thus avoiding the messy situation of clients with limited knowledge of legal matters leaving reviews.
Aug. 25 marks the day users will be able to create profiles and use some of Legably’s features, but the company’s full functionality will launch Sept. 25. That’s the date its integration with legal practice management software Clio begins.
The Clio integration will expose Legably to the more than 150,000 lawyers the company claims use the service.
“Clio provides a platform for lawyers to manage their client information and workflow, so we think we’re the perfect partner for them and vice versa for lawyers looking to find work themselves then use Clio to manage the work itself,” Reilly says.
Reilly, who still has a healthcare law firm but has been working on Legably full time since March, is also in the midst of raising a seed round and is working to secure integrations with several other legal tech service providers.
By taking a commission on each transaction, Legably seems to have a relatively straightforward business model and a promising future in an industry space that clearly has room for improvement.
“Legably is the perfect platform for practicing lawyers that are really good at a very narrow field and want to make money in it, and it’s also perfect for a relatively new lawyer who doesn’t have much experience but brings value to learning and doing more basic work, and in doing that they gain the experience they need,” Reilly says. “That’s how the legal services market should work. We’re just fixing it.”
Images courtesy of Legably.