An Attorney's Introduction to the LawGuru Answers Marketplace
LawGuru's mission is to improve the public’s access to affordable and reliable legal information.
We have developed a new system that, in addition to allowing users to continue to submit free questions, will allow our users to pay a small fee to have access to additional features for their legal question (e.g. expedited answers, privacy, enhanced communication with the attorney). Participation in this new paid system is purely optional and has the potential to provide you a nice additional revenue stream.
We are aware that this forward-thinking legal services model introduces ethical considerations for our member attorneys. To assess these issues, we have worked with some of the nation's leading ethics attorneys to advise us on building a system which will address these concerns.
Users indicate the price they are willing to pay to have their legal question answered and choose the attorneys they wish to receive their question. The user and the answering attorney will enter into a limited scope of representation agreement (“Limited Representation Agreement”) which will create an attorney-client relationship which is limited in both scope (only involves the answer to the question) and duration (ends when the answer is delivered). Although a recent phenomenon, these types of agreements (also known as unbundled services) are gaining popularity and believed to be an integral part of the future of legal representation.
• View a sample Limited Representation Agreement.
If you have questions about the legal or ethical considerations involved in participating in this system, we encourage you to write us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your comments and concerns.
For those members who choose not to participate in the new paid component of LawGuru Answers, please rest assured that your access to and participation in the free service will continue without interruption. LawGuru remains committed to the free service and continuing to work with our attorney members in providing this valuable service to the public.
We have included a flowchart to show you how the system will work from a user's perspective:
As an attorney, the system will work as follows:
- When submitting a question (as they do now), users will be given the option to submit a free
question or a paid question. Users who choose to submit a paid question will be charged two
separate, distinct, and unrelated fees.
- One of the fees will be a “Venue Fee” paid to LawGuru to support the site and to help
offset the costs associated with paid questions, unlike free questions, being posted immediately
for distribution to Attorney Members.
- The other fee will be an attorney fee to compensate the Attorney Member who answers the
question for their time and effort in furnishing legal advice pursuant to a limited scope
- No portion of the Attorney Fee paid to the Attorney Member providing the answer will be shared
with LawGuru.com. Likewise, no portion of the Venue Fee paid to LawGuru.com will be shared with
any Attorney Member.
- Free questions will be distributed as they currently are but after a five-day hold.
- Paid questions will be distributed to attorneys of the customer's selection in the state in which the
question was asked, provided those attorneys have chosed to participate in the paid system. These
questions will include additional information so the attorney may run a conflicts check. Attorneys can
exclusively "retain the question” and have 2 hours to respond before they return to the
- Before the user can submit a Paid Question, the user must acknowledge agreement to a form of
limited representation agreement and will be charged the amount of the Venue Fee and the Attorney
- Before the Attorney Member can send the answer to the Paid Question for review by the User, the
Attorney Member must accept the limited representation agreement with that User.
- As part of the process of accepting the answer, the User will confirm acceptance of the limited
representation agreement with you specifically as the attorney that has answered the Paid Question.
If the user "accepts" the answer, then you have earned the Attorney Fee for that Paid Question and
that amount will be credited to your account. If the User rejects the answer, then they are refunded
the charges both as to the Venue Fee and the Attorney Fee and no limited representation agreement
ever becomes effective. If within 96 hours of receiving the answer the User does not review it, or
reviews it and fails to either accept or reject the answer, the system will automatically accept the
answer on his/her behalf ("auto-accept"); provided, however, that this auto-accept function will not
trigger if the Attorney Member has not responded to a message from the User requesting clarification
of the answer.
LawGuru has always been about exploring the evolving relationship between the public, attorneys and the Internet. When we first launched LawGuru in 1997, many attorneys were concerned that this was "too different", "too unothodox", or "too unknown". But we persisted, and with you, built something truly unique. Our desire is to actively work to improve the public’s access to affordable and reliable legal information. We appreciate your continued support and we are excited for the changes that together we will help bring to this wonderful medium and the law.