There have been a number of articles and blogs about the “Uberization of law” over the past year. Once a business model is successful in one vertical it seems as though everyone is running to apply the model to her or his vertical. Adopting a successful model, however, does not guarantee success, especially if it doesn't fit within another industry. At minimum, prior to adopting a model, one must understand it in its entirety before attempting to apply it to a different vertical. Secondly, one must ensure it is feasible to adopt it to another vertical. So let’s see how Uber works and how it could fit within the legal market.
Each Uber driver needs to be licensed. Similarly, each lawyer in the legal industry must be licensed. However, this is where the similarities between the two verticals begin and abruptly come to a halt. Every time Kate opens her Uber app, she is receiving a service from an Uber driver, yet Uber and not the driver contracts her fare. Uber as a company sets the prices and fare is contracted out to each of their drivers. The driver is thereby charged a percentage of the fare as well. Uber holds the total fare the consumer was charged for 30 days and then disperses the driver’s earnings at the end of the month. As a lawyer and as a consumer you may begin to see why Uberization of the legal industry is not feasible and here’s why.
1. The legal industry is far more complicated, intricate and case specific than an industry concerned with taking Kate from destination A to B. While Uber calculates a fare based on a limited number of factors like distance and time, there are infinite variables to consider in a legal case.
2. Lawyers are prohibited from splitting profits with non-lawyers due to Professional and Ethics rules.
3. Each lawyer is required to hold client money in a specific way. If a third party company holds funds for 30 days like Uber does before dispersing to their drivers, they would be faced with yet another violation of the lawyer’s professional and ethic requirements. Specifically, the Uber model does not account for the requirements of holding money in escrow on behalf of the client. Money held in escrow funds is referred to IOLTA accounts that earn interest.
4. In order to be compliant with lawyer rules, a company adopting the Uber model would itself have to be a law firm. Uberization of law, thus, falls short in accommodating the 600,000 of lawyers working as solo practitioners.
We have repeatedly heard that Jurbid is the Uber for law. We are not and we never intend to be. The Uber model is not only inappropriate in the legal services industry, at least in our view, it is also a poor fit for our vision of the future of law. Instead, Jurbid adopted a proven model that we feel addresses the need within the framework of the system. Jurbid is a marketplace that connects consumers and lawyers. Each lawyer sets their own price and a client contracts directly with the lawyer. Jurbid is merely the facilitator.
To put it into context, if Uber were like Jurbid, each driver would set their own prices for the fare and drivers would compete with one another for Kate’s choice. We believe that our marketplace approach centralizes an unorganized and fragmented market ultimately creating transparency and competition among lawyers. There are over 1.2 million lawyers in the United States. Fifty percent them are solo practitioners. How can anyone find the right lawyer at her or his budget? Well, through Jurbid.
Your Jurbid Team.