Legal River’s most common requests are for complex business formations, employee handbooks, registering trademarks and government contracting issues, according to CEO Ben Hatten. They help businesses find niche-focused lawyers, and many attorneys from smaller firms use Legal River as a way to reach new potential clients. Legal River currently has over 300 law firms registered on its site. Personal referrals and online directories of lawyers, such as lawyers.com or findlaw.com, provide similar services, but Legal River has the efficiency of sending RFPs to hundreds of attorneys at once, said Hatten
Legal River is an online platform based in Washington, D.C. that connects small businesses without in-house counsel with attorneys. Businesses can confidentially post their legal need and interested lawyers can craft responses that include their biographies and their estimated rates. Legal River then gives businesses the ability to view those responses in a side-by-side format.
The service is free for businesses to use. The company monetizes on the lawyer side of the site. Lawyers never see the business’ name or contact info; they just see the legal need, the business’ description of their legal need, and where the business is based.
The company launched in 2009 with the help of technology incubator Launch Box Digital. General Counsel, P.C. is a full service law firm in the D.C. area that focuses on smaller businesses.
Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, P.C., a Silicon Valley-based law firm first created a similar Term Sheet Generator last May and Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, LLP, a San Francisco firm, launched similar tools on its website in August.