There are websites to match people with food, taxis and dates, but the sharing economy has entered a new sphere with LOD now launching an online marketplace to pair individual lawyers with clients.
LOD’s new online marketplace, dubbed Spoke, will allow businesses and individuals to search a pool of lawyers by experience level, price, sector speciality and practice skills. With the likes of Uber, Airbnb and Purplebricks respectively disrupting the taxi, holiday and estate agent industries, LOD is hoping the same formula will work in the legal industry.
In what LOD claims is a first of its kind, Spoke is set to have 500 lawyers available to search and send legal work to by July. Lawyers will create profiles, including a picture, detailing their various skills in the hope of being chosen by clients. Around half of the roster are expected to be lawyers already on LOD’s books, with 250 additional freelancers expected to sign up ahead of its summer launch. Clients will be able to ‘favourite’ lawyers – compiling a list of potential people to send work to – and leave testimonials on completion of a project.
The move comes amid growing acceptance of freelance work as a mainstream career option for lawyers, taking LOD’s core flexi-lawyer service to the next level, allowing clients to directly search for lawyers themselves online. The Spoke site has been live for lawyer registrations in the UK since 27 April.
‘Spoke takes the flexible lawyer landscape that LOD pioneered and adds another new way of working,’ said Simon Harper, co-founder of LOD and creator of Spoke. ‘The so-called “gig economy” has allowed lawyers and legal teams to have flexibility and control over how they work and Spoke signals another stage in the New Law evolution. The big law firm was one way for lawyers to work that grew out of the twentieth century. Spoke is about harnessing what the 21st century has to offer.’
Spoke will offer a variety of experience and expertise across different practice areas, ranging from core commercial contracts to more niche specialisations from both solicitors and barristers. The lawyers on Spoke will be available to work with legal teams on a remote flexible basis when clients need them.
‘If you look at these platforms in other industries, there’s an inevitability that it starts off small as people need to adapt to working that way,’ added Harper. ‘The springboard to taking it online will be much greater, though, because we’ve got the heritage and experience in the market. That will accelerate the process, but it will take time.’
The Berwin Leighton Paisner-backed LOD has become one of the most high-profile ‘New Law’ businesses since its launch in 2007. LOD, which generated £12.3m in its 2014/15, was named Legal Innovator of the Year at the 2016 Legal Business Awards.