John Schwartz at the New York Times in a piece entitled “Delivering a Lawyer Within 15 Minutes (Soda Extra)” reports on Lawyer Up, the latest ‘lawyer referral service’ gimmick for clients who really, really need a lawyer, right away. Chris Miles, a non-lawyer came up with this
brilliant, innovative, ground-breaking, opportunistic scheme to connect clients who don’t know any bbetter and lawyers who should know better. Apparently, legal services and the lawyer-client relationship are fully fungible:
“If I want a pizza, I can get a pizza in 15 minutes,” he says. “I can get a plumber in the middle of the night. Why can’t I get a lawyer?”
Why not, indeed.
According to the New York Times story,
The service’s personal plan, aimed at young people, costs $4.95 a month. Those who do not have a subscription can pay a flat fee of $100 for the first call, which the company calls its “pay-in-a-pinch plan.” For all clients, an operator checks contact information and processes the lawyer’s initial fee of $250 on a credit card for the first hour of service.
If this is targeted at young people in trouble with the law, then I’m sure there are some criminal defense lawyers in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island, where Lawyer Up is up and running, who will also sign up for this (apparently over 700 clients have already have done so). I defer to public defenders like Gideon to comment on the merits of this pizza topping substitute for the Yellow Pages.
The LawyerUP site has some interesting testimonials by “Experienced lawyers who are there for you, fast.”
Hint: It’s really fun to listen to all three videos simultenously. Try it.
According to the LawyerUP website, here is how it’s supposed to work:
How LawyerUp Works
You Contact LawyerUp
You notify our dispatch operators by pressing the LawyerUp app or calling our toll-free number: 1-877-72-LAWUP.
Operator Confirms Information
Our operator will confirm your identify and record location, callback number, and any crime(s) charged.
Lawyers Are Dispatched
The moment you are finished with the operator, the operator immediately dispatches a lawyer from a pool of all appropriate LawyerUp lawyers in our network.
After Your One Hour Consultation
You may decide to negotiate terms to continue working with the dispatched lawyer or another lawyer of your choosing to continue your case beyond the one hour consultation.
Your Lawyer Begins Working Within 15 Minutes
The dispatched lawyer will begin to work on your behalf by first attempting to contact you. If not possible, the lawyer will contact your emergency contacts on file. If appropriate, the attorney will arrange for a bail bondsman, and any other services on your behalf, not to exceed one billable hour.
It would make more sense to have the LawyerUp lawyers just pitch a tent outside the courthouses so the travel time would be cut down. Better yet, why not some cool set of wheels like these?
Frankly, LawyerUp is among the latest entrants in the lawyer marketing ‘race to the bottom’, as aptly described by Scott Greenfield. Most of these websites are merely one-trick ponies or carnival gimmicks, targeting uninformed and desperate clients as well as equally uninformed and desperate lawyers. The clients, I understand. But just because your second mortgage is in arrears and your Kia needs a new transmission, is no excuse to flush your ethics down the proverbial toilet. What Greenfield said about Shpoonkle applies with equal force to Lawyer Up:
Any lawyer who signs up for this service should be immediately disbarred, then tarred and feathered, then publicly humiliated. It doesn’t matter how awful a lawyer you are, how pathetic your business, how grossly incapable you may be in getting any client to retain you. Those are all good reasons to apply for the assistant manager’s position at Dairy Queen. This is worse.
Aside: If you require further explanation why this is not a responsible means of acquiring business, then I urge to run, not walk, to the nearest street corner in short shorts. This is not at issue.
Let’s hope any of these fly-by-night, get-rich-quick, sell-out-your-ethics schemes die a quick and painful death, preferably in 15 minutes or less.
*Disclaimer: No Tony’s Pizza coupons will be honored. Forward any inquiries to @Rex7.