Legal Web site Launches an Inexpensive Pay Service -- LawGuru Answers-- Featuring Access to Expanded Advice and Expertise For Consumers
PALM DESERT, Calif., March 29, 2010 -- In these uncertain economic times, more than ever consumers are seeking a trustworthy alternative to costly, but much needed legal advice. A growing many are unable to hire an attorney except when facing the direst of circumstances.
However, thanks to LawGuru.com, affordable and reliable legal advice is no further away than the screen of your computer, laptop or smart phone.
Since 1997, LawGuru.com -- www.lawguru.com -- has offered invaluable free legal information from attorneys, including a database resource of more than 500,000 answered legal questions. Recently, the legal Web company enhanced its site through launching a pay option -- LawGuru Answers -- that brings consumers in all 50 states convenient and inexpensive access to legal counsel from attorneys.
“We are really doing something that is unique and revolutionary,” said Bahman Eslamboly, LawGuru’s co-founder. “We are giving legal advice online for a small fee. It is an alternative to having to go through the hassle of finding an attorney and pay them $300 to $500 an hour. Our concept falls somewhere between free advice and hiring an attorney. We saw this need from our free users who wanted more.”
LawGuru.com’s pay service, which ranges in price from $39- $59, offers users expanded legal advice that includes an attorney-client privilege, follow-up communication with the attorney, and control of which attorneys will have the opportunity to answer. However, this legal relationship is limited in scope to the particular question or questions asked by the user via the Web site. In addition, unlike LawGuru’s free legal answers, the user’s paid answered questions and correspondence with an attorney are kept private and not posted on the site.
The Web site’s new service fits with the growing push in the legal industry for the unbundling of legal services. This practice allows attorneys to “unbundle” their legal services and take on only a part of a case, which is known as limited-scope representation. Lawyers have traditionally been required to remain with a case until its conclusion unless a court excused them from the obligation. Consumers or businesses can now hire lawyers on a limited basis, but the attorney is only responsible for the advice they provide on a specific issue or subject and not the entire case.
“One of the cornerstones of our system is we offer a limited scope of representation that protects the attorney and user,” said Eslamboly. “The attorneys are not obligated to represent in their cases, write letters for them and go to court on their behalf. The answer they provide is only about the particular issue or question asked. This frees up attorneys to offer advice that is more discounted. In the past, they might have been reluctant to get involved for lower fee for fear of being on the hook for the whole case.”
The site will continue to offer free legal advice and Eslamboly estimated LawGuru has donated approximately $25 million worth of legal expertise through the years.
“Law Guru has a history of being a public service and we are proud of that,” said Eslamboly. “It has been very rewarding for us, but we are excited to be taking our business to the next level.”
LawGuru’s pay service is a financial opportunity not only for consumers, but also for attorneys who are looking to increase their income or even set up a virtual law practice using the site’s platform, said Steven Martinez, LawGuru’s director of business development.
“The recession coupled with technology changes is causing a real shake up in the legal industry right now,” said Martinez. “A lot of attorneys are scrambling trying to figure out what their business will look like in 10 to 15 years. Unlike some other sites you see out there, LawGuru is not trying to replace what lawyers do and take a chunk of their business, but to give them another forum to market their expertise and expand their incomes. We are actually helping a lot of attorneys get involved in the Internet and capture business that would otherwise have been shut out.”
Eslamboly added, “We would be nowhere without attorneys. They are the life’s blood of LawGuru.”
More than 6,000 law firms are LawGuru members with a 1,000 or so of those being frequent contributors of legal advice on the site. Eslamboly said there is a healthy competition among attorneys on the site for answering consumers’ questions in a timely manner.
“There are attorneys making $500-$1000 a month answering legal questions on our site,” said Eslamboly. “That’s a pretty good chunk of change for a small practitioner especially these days when clients are hard to come by. As we ramp up and more questions come in, I could see many attorneys making a good supplement to their income. And in the future, a smaller practitioner could really practice law this way and not need an office. They could have a virtual law practice using our site and answer questions from anywhere.”
Eslamboly co-founded LawGuru with Kamran Barlavi in the early days of the Internet as means to combine his passion for computers and law. LawGuru began as a website for their law practice but soon expanded. Yet when Eslamboly initially announced the launch of LawGuru in an online law newsgroup he was met with hostile reactions and dire warnings from fellow attorneys.
“Attorneys at the time told us we were crazy and warned us that we would ruin the industry,” recalled Eslamboly. “But we knew there was a real need out there for people to find reliable free legal advice online.”
Eslamboly, Barlavi and Martinez, who are also attorneys, make up the company’s core management team. The company also employs a small staff at its Palm Desert office -- located at 73700 Dinah Shore Dr., Ste. 104 -- of software engineers, programmers, designers and customer service representatives to help with the running and ongoing enhancement of the site.
“Designing a system to comply with the regulations and laws in all the states was extremely challenging,” said Eslamboly. “But it has always been our mission to improve and increase the public's access to affordable and reliable legal resources. The legal profession is at a crossroads, and we hope to help lead it in the right direction.”
LawGuru.com is one of the most popular legal Web sites and offers as a variety of free and paid services and legal information to consumers. LawGuru features more than a half a million legal answers provided by our attorney members that includes more than 6,000 participating law firms. Since launching in 1997, LawGuru.com has continuously grown and evolved and the site’s question-answer feature even went through a few name changes and is now called LawGuru Answers. Recently, LawGuru launched LawGuru Answers to offer consumers expanded access to affordable, trustworthy legal advice.
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