Leadership

Bar Association Teams Up With Legal Services Startup

By / Aug 13, 2014 (iStock/Thinkstock)

In a pilot program, the American Bar Association will work with the startup Rocket Lawyer, which offers access to legal documents and on-call attorneys for a flat monthly fee. The association sees it as an opportunity to reach a new market for legal services.

It remains to be seen if the startup Rocket Lawyer is going to do to legal services what Uber did to taxis—but if it does, the American Bar Association won’t be left behind.

Last week, the ABA announced a new collaboration with the online legal services company, which gives individuals and small businesses access to legal documents and an easy way to reach on-call attorneys for legal advice. The pilot program will “empower lawyers to deliver affordable online legal services to small businesses and the self-employed. [It] will be designed to connect the ABA’s network of practicing lawyers to prospective clients through Rocket Lawyer’s cloud-based platform,” the ABA said in a statement.

The company, founded in 2008 and backed by $43 million in funding, offers monthly subscriptions and provides access thorough mobile platforms.

In the statement, ABA President James R. Silkenat said the program would extend the  legal industry’s reach into new areas.

“The American Bar Association welcomes the opportunity to explore ways to expand legal services to those who need a lawyer’s counsel but are not currently being served for reasons ranging from affordability to ease of access,” Silkenat said. “We look forward to working with Rocket Lawyer on this pilot program to identify ways for our members to serve more clients while remaining faithful to the legal profession’s high standards of ethics and professionalism.”

Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, Silkenat added that the company was helping “a market that we saw as being very horribly underserved.”

The program will start small, the WSJ notes, in just a few states with a few hundred attorneys per state. While Rocket Lawyer will not profit from the program at first, the relationship with the ABA, which has more than 400,000 members, could help further legitimize its business in the legal profession.

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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