Lawyer To The Millennials

There has probably been no worse development for lawyers than internet legal directories. While they allow people to find lawyers, they provide no useful means of differentiating between lawyers. The problems have been described here in detail over the years, when there was a rush of new “legal space” start-ups trying to milk a bit of the legal budget out of the middle by connecting some random lawyer, willing to pay a monthly fee, or willing to split their fee, to pretend they were a good lawyer.

Every lawyer on the internet claims to be tough, experienced and caring. The clients of some lawyers might dispute that characterization, but when the basis for choosing a lawyer is whatever crap they write online, it’s hard to tell in advance.

Naturally, that means there should be a new push for doing the same old failed thing, and Bob Ambrogi is on top of it.

What do millennials look for when shopping for a lawyer? They want to know if you’ll meet with them in Starbucks. They want to know if you accept payment via Venmo or Bitcoin. They want to know a fun or quirky fact about you.

That, at least, is the premise of Modern Attorney, a new attorney directory that aims to match millennial clients with lawyers who fit their lifestyles. The site encourages attorneys to create profiles that show their personalities and in which they are transparent about their services and fees.

Are they trying to say that millennials are vapid and shallow? Pretty much, yeah. They’re banking on it.

“Six months ago, we at NextChapter started talking about how we would look for an attorney,” Sickmeyer said. “All of us agreed we aren’t going to go find an attorney in the ways people might have done so in the past. We want to find lawyers who work the way we live, who will meet us in a coffee shop or talk with us over video chat.”

In the old days, people wanted to find lawyers who would win their case. Maybe win at a reasonable cost. Maybe just win. But this is a brave new world where it’s far more important to the young that lawyers “work the way we live,” meaning what exactly?

Lawyers’ profiles on Modern Attorney have sections that tell potential clients the different ways they will communicate — such as by email, text or remotely. They tell whether the lawyer meets by video conference, in coffee shops, or by traveling to the client.

Profiles indicate the ways in which a lawyer is tech savvy, showing when a lawyer has a secure client portal, uses “modern technology,” and communicates by texting. Profiles show average fees per hour or per matter, and the payment methods the lawyer accepts.

I might point out that the fee is relative to the lawyer’s ability, as $100 per hour to lose isn’t really that good a deal, while an experienced lawyer can do in one hour what would take an inexperienced lawyer ten hours. But then, experienced lawyers use their offices to meet clients rather than Starbucks, Ugh, amirite?

Lawyers are encouraged to offer “fun facts” about themselves. One says he plays bass in a wedding band. Another says she bakes over 200-dozen Christmas cookies every year. Profiles have sliders for lawyers to indicate whether they are cat or dog people, prefer mountains or cities, and lean more towards books or sports.

Oh fun facts? Here’s one: if it’s possible, I’ll beat your case even if you’re a white cis-normative man and your accuser is an overweight trans woman of color with a peg leg. Is that fun enough  for you? As for whether I’m a “dog or cat” person, I’m a cross-examination person. How does that work for you?

Naturally, I wondered who would be the first to hook up with this new scheme, because what attorney doesn’t want to promote his wares to legal “consumers” who have no money to pay them? So I searched for “criminal defense” within 50 miles of New York City, eager in anticipation to see what fun facts I would learn.

It seems the only fun fact available was that there were “no results.” Which, ironically, is the right answer for anyone who is looking for a lawyer based on whether they “work the way we live.” But, as Ambrogi optimistically notes, it takes time to gain traction.

The nascent directory is still light on lawyer listings, so searches often come up nil. But that is to be expected with any new directory, until it has time to gain traction.

In order to beef up its listings, Modern Attorney is offering lawyers the ability to sign up for free through the end of the year. For those who take advantage of this offer, their listings will remain free forever, Sickmeyer said. Starting Jan. 1, the cost of a listing will be $25 a month plus a $150 initiation fee.

If you get in now, not only will you be the only lawyer in the city, but you can get it free “forever.” Of course, forever might not mean what you think it does. Right, Shpoonkle? It would be cheaper, and more likely effective, to just buy some pinstriped hotpants and walk the boulevard.

21 thoughts on “Lawyer To The Millennials

  1. Skink

    The next time I have a plumbing problem, where the whole neighborhood’s shit is gurgling from the kitchen sink, I’ll find someone to fix it by video chat. I want the person to be just like me. It doesn’t matter that a person just like me don’t know shit about how shit disappears, or even how it appears. The other is more important.

    I’m an asshole. Yup, I’m a mean, curt person. I’m direct in dealing with everyone–there’s no guessing where you stand. Like you, my wife tells me to stop acting like a lawyer. But when it comes to plumbing, I don’t want one that knows plumbing, I want one that can do a devastating cross in ten minutes. The shit in the sink won’t stand a chance.

    1. SHG Post author

      Ah, dear Skink. You, like me, just don’t understand what clients want anymore. Maybe we need to stop yelling “get off my lawn” and start handing out balloons.


  2. Mario Machado

    I can’t wait for the Latinx version of a “cross-examination person.”

    And what’s the point of meeting a client at a Starbucks if they can’t buy some foie gras and a nice steak there?

    1. SHG Post author

      I remember a passionate person explaining to me that while cross is permissible, it can be done sensitively so as not to traumatize vulnerable witnesses, and only an asshole lawyer would make a witness cry. Cross, but nicely, is the woke way to cross.

      1. Ross

        You mean you are no longer allowed to ask the witness to admit they are a lying sack of shit? It’s a good thing my personal injury defense attorney friend is retired, since he loved making witnesses, especially doctors, squirm while they figured out how to admit that they were, in fact, lying sacks of shit.

  3. Bear

    I’m not an attorney, but I did charge by the hour. Once clients realized this they almost always wanted to come to the office (where incidentally I served a better brand of coffee than Starbucks). If they were lucky they got to drink it out of a mug that had “World’s best Dad” on it.

          1. Bear

            I wouldn’t mind poking fun at the red brick people too, they can be such awful snobs. But you are kinder than I.

        1. Casual Lurker

          “But every EE knows that the second letter is a j not an i”

          I don’t see an i or a j. But, I assume you’re referring to the square root of negative one in the equation. (For you lawyers, this was Charles Proteus Steinmetz’s “imaginary numbers” j-operator, a fancy way of saying “rotate everything 90° counter-clockwise”*, using rectangular coordinates).

          While the j-operator is commonly used by EEs, Stienmetz and others have acknowledged that with a sphere you would use i, j, and k. (one for each axis). Moving on to the S-plane…

          *Yes, I’m oversimplifying.

    1. Guitardave

      Sorry, off topic, but we should also raise a glass and thank the universe for giving us the incomparable Marie Laforet….those eyes… RIP beautiful folk song Goddess.

  4. AP

    I had no idea that all this time I was a “modern attorney” by meeting my clients where they are — not necessarily where they prefer — like at my local jail.

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