The move by website LawBid comes months earlier than planned, after launching in England and Wales at the start of August and the client response having “exceeded expectation”, according to its founder Kid Harwood, director of Birmingham-based Wildings Solicitors.
Harwood, who said he has been in the legal profession for 18 years, told Scotland on Sunday: “We have found that there is a clear demand for this type of online service.”
He came up with the idea after seeing a gap in the market for an easier client experience.
“Over the years I have listened to clients say they feel as though the process of finding a solicitor is time-consuming and sometimes daunting,” he said.
“Often they will speak to or visit several firms… It’s arduous and takes a lot of time and the process can put people off. We offer clients a different way to search for and interact with legal professionals and choose the right legal services with minimum effort.”
The site, which will also launch in Ireland tomorrow, works by prospective clients posting their legal issue anonymously on the site. Legal professionals signed up to the service can view the case and then bid for it by confidentially quoting their price to them.
“Only when a client has chosen a solicitor and accepted their offer are their personal details disclosed to the solicitor. Clients are invited to post any type of case, from divorce through to more serious criminal matters,” Harwood explained.
He said the platform has had more than 400 clients so far and commonly posted subjects for cases include conveyancing, employment, family, immigration and personal injury.
Its expansion comes amid a growing number of “disruptive” online services, such as Airbnb and Uber, offering a digital take on traditional industries to bring consumers closer to services.
Harwood said the site anticipates about 150 client registrations in Scotland in the first month of launch, with about 50 solicitors’ firms initially signing up to serve them.
In terms of moving to an area with a different legal system, Harwood stressed that this does not affect the way LawBid works, as it does not issue legal advice directly to clients.
He believes there is a “genuine need” for this kind of service. “Lower prices do not necessarily equate to a lower quality service; consumers simply want to find the best value for money service for their individual circumstances. Aside from the aspect of price, we have a customer review and rating system,” he said.