Lawyers.com, which provides legal content aimed at individuals and small businesses, this month started Legal Services by Request, a program that allows registered members to ask a network of 2,000 attorneys legal questions via e-mail.
A division of legal publisher Martindale-Hubbell, Lawyers.com offers the service free to registered members while charging the attorneys $30 per month. The incentive for attorneys is that they could develop the e-mail contact into billable business.
Members who communicate with the lawyers through the service are not required to obtain a firm's professional services, however, and disclaimers absolve the lawyers of legal responsibility for information they provide through the e-mails.
Martindale-Hubbell, which has an offline network of lawyers and law firms, said more lawyers are expected to sign up.
“Our sense is that we want to make lawyers more accessible to the public and overcome some of the intimidation or anxiety they might have in contacting a lawyer,” said Carol Cooper, publisher at Martindale-Hubbell, New Providence, NJ. “We're really trying to walk people through the process and provide another way that isn't necessarily picking up the phone, but has a little more anonymity and a little more learning.”
Respond.com, Palo Alto, CA, a provider of request-driven lead generation solutions, provides the technology for Legal Services by Request. Visitors to Respond.com's site also can access Legal Services by Request.
Lyn Chitow Oakes, CEO of Respond.com, said the main objective of the service was to provide a convenient way for “purchase-ready buyers” to find legal services.
“We want to match users specifically with the lawyer in the specialty and in the area that they live in that can deliver on their legal requirements,” she said.
Martindale-Hubbell began promoting the service via direct mail and telephone last July. Leading up to this month's launch, the company delivered two direct mail pieces promoting the service to more than 50,000 law firms.
The company has not promoted the e-mail service via e-mail to its members, Cooper said.