Bar Association Enters the 21st Century

August 6, 2007

Lawyers have been using the Internet for a decade, and even the most unsophisticated consumers have had Internet access at home for at least five years. In this context, a directory that would enable consumers to find lawyers online should have seemed like a logical project for bar associations -- which purport to serve the public by helping increase access to law. The bars did little to provide lawyers with ways to list themselves online and, consequently, a few months ago, one company -- Avvo -- stepped in to fill this void  and, in doing so, attracted a controversial response.

But now, at least one bar association -- the Columbus Bar Association -- is jumping into the 21st century, with a directory called Liam Law, as reported in this  article. According to the article, Liam Law lets consumers do research on local lawyers and compare prices on legal services and includes a legal toolkit describing what consumers should know to hire a lawyer. Indeed, the site has had 600,000 visitors since May. The site is well designed and cost $150,000 to create -- though with a $300 monthly fee for profile listings, the bar expects to recover its cost by June of next year.

Three hundred dollars per month is, in my view, extremely pricy for a lawyer directory -- and I think that the bar should consider reducing the price to attract greater lawyer participation. Right now, only 38 lawyers have registered to use the site, making it far less valuable for consumers who benefit most when they can compare services from dozens of lawyers. But despite the pricing problem, at least the Liam Law directory is a start towards helping consumers find information about lawyers -- which is exactly what the bar associations should be doing.

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on August 6, 2007 at 02:38 PM |