Most legal problems are fairly common, so you shouldn’t have to fork over thousands of dollars in legal fees.
Launching today, a Los Angeles-based startup wants to give you a free, online pre-consultation about your legal issues before you ever call a lawyer or go to a lawyer’s office. MyRight is a graduate of Los Angeles incubator, StartEngine and is the brainchild of law students, Michael Niu and Nikhil Jhunjhnuwala.
The site does what it says on the tin — it provides non-lawyers with the tools to solve their own legal problems.”We both found that lawyers spent a huge amount of their time answering and asking the same questions when new clients came into their offices,” said Niu. “We thought there must be a better way to automate this process.”
The startup currently competes with legal Q&A services Avvo and LawQA. However, it has brought on a key advisor to help it rise above the pack. Frank Monestere, President and COO of LegalZoom, one of the few successful companies in the emergent legal tech space, is working with the small team of three founders. LegalZoom is a website that provides document preparation services and connects people with lawyers online at a fraction of the cost.
“To the average consumer, the law is a mysterious black box. Translating legal issues into plain English that consumers can understand is a tremendous market need,” Monestere told VentureBeat. “Doing that right will attract lots of users, many of whom will want to work with lawyers willing to pay for the business.”
MyRight says there is a huge addressable market for its online legal service. “From startups to grandparents to college students to the poorest in our society, everyone has legal rights and everyone, except those who can afford lawyers on retainer, encounters legal problems where current online resources are just not good enough,” said Niu.
Got a legal issue? The site will lead you through a series of simple questions that get to the heart of the complaint. For instance, if it’s a housing query about a security deposit, it might ask you simple questions like, “Have you asked your landlord for a refund?” (see left) Throughout the process, you’ll be provided with relevant and simple information.
“People think the law is complicated, but most people would be able to make much better decisions if they simply knew the basics and whether talking to a lawyer is a good decision,” Niu said. In future, he told me, lawyers will use the site’s proprietary CMS to build their own helpful step-by-step guides on a variety of legal topics.
The company plans to make money by asking lawyers to pre-pay for leads. If a legal complaint is too complicated, you may need to seek additional, expert guidance. The idea is that lawyers will be able to connect with these users through the site.
MyRight is currently in the middle of raising a $500,000 seed round, which it plans to close in October.
Top image via Shutterstock