LegalMatch Revisited (Again)

I’ve kind of watched with amazement at the number of comments my posts concerning LegalMatch have generated.  Today, I received a comment to two of my posts from Lance Burton, "Director of Attorney Relation Services and Continuing Advanced Education" at LegalMatch.  His comment, "For an informed response to the many comments listed here with respect to LegalMatch please review the items at the following site."  The site is the LegalMatch Blog and I encourage readers to take a look. 

In the response, Mr. Burton first addresses my major complaint about LegalMatch, saying:

The major issue in the blogs and in other chatter concerning LegalMatch is a complaint that we use deceptive and hard sales tactics to get attorneys to the phone. I’ll be the first to say, we do whatever we can to get a minute with an attorneys to talk with us about the clients we have attracted to our website.  (Underlined emphasis mine).

and then he takes a shot at some of the people who have been leaving the comments in my blog posts:

The former employees that seem bent on making LegalMatch look like the bad guys in the ‘blogs’ and who continue to pop off about being exploited, or complaining that LegalMatch didn’t do this or didn’t do that, professing to hold special insights into how LegalMatch works, generally fall into two categories. First, there is the occasional contractors we hired who fooled us for awhile by pretending to understand the LegalMatch mission and to have the client’s interest at heart, but didn’t. We ultimately recognized the pretenders in this group whose only real interest was in lining their own pockets. They thought LegalMatch was just another Internet dot com that would yield loads of money for them to rip off. The second group of sales contractors we had to weed out were those individual who came to us as “labor fakers.” These individuals, who we asked to work hard in the interest of building LegalMatch goodwill so as to benefit our clients and member attorneys, misunderstood the work ethic necessary to keep a start up moving to solvency. Who could predict that these individuals were just too lazy and short sighted to recognize the opportunity put before them. They apparently thought they would never have to ever work hard again. Shame on them. I personally apologize to anyone who may have encountered these aberations.

I applaud LegalMatch for doing this.  I’d love to see the dialog continued on the LegalMatch blog, instead of mine.  However, the LegalMatch Blog doesn’t have comments enabled.  Oh well.

2 Responses to LegalMatch Revisited (Again)
  1. Juan Jaramillo
    January 13, 2005 | 5:35 pm

    I am a lawyer who was looking for an interesting and challenging entrepreneurial opportunity upon graduating from law school midway through 2002. Since LegalMatch had recently opened its East Coast headquarters in Chelsea Market (Manhattan), I decided to join their small team. I was only associated with LegalMatch for about two months, and I resigned because of LegalMatch’s flawed policy for hiring and vetting sales people, and because an aggressive, sometimes misleading sales pitch was not my style but was the only style that effectively sold the product. Case in point: Jason Itzler, J.D. Go ahead, Google him, and then continue reading. Or better yet, I’ll help you with the latest:

    ‘PIMP KING’ BUST

    By JEANE MacINTOSH and LARRY CELONA
    ——————————————————————————–

    Email Archives
    Print Reprint

    January 13, 2005 — A multimillion-dollar pimp is behind bars, charged with running a massive Manhattan call-girl ring — and now he’s wanted by authorities in two other states for drug possession, stalking and breaking parole, The Post has learned.
    NYPD vice cops busted porn king Jason Itzler, 37, owner of alleged hooker haven NY Confidential, at Chelsea’s Gansevoort Hotel this week, days after seven of his employees were nabbed in a raid on his Worth Street headquarters.

    Itzler, whose high-priced escort business raked in at least $3.6 million a year, was charged with drug possession, promoting prostitution, money laundering and falsifying business records.

    He’s also in hot water in New Jersey, where he’s on parole from state prison after serving six months of a 5-year sentence for smuggling nearly 4,000 “ecstasy” pills through Newark Airport.

    New Jersey’s parole board has moved to send him back to the slammer there, spokesman Edward Bray said.

    Meanwhile, authorities searched Itzler’s Hoboken apartment with drug-sniffing dogs, and found, among other things “prescription drugs for which he did not have prescriptions,” according to a law-enforcement source. The find is expected to result in drug charges in New Jersey.

    And in Florida, where Itzler once ran a lucrative 900-number phone-sex business, he’s wanted on a felony stalking warrant, according to authorities.

    Details of the warrant weren’t immediately available.

    But Itzler has a history of abusive and threatening behavior. He was arrested in New Jersey in 2000 and again in 2003 for beating up his then-girlfriends; the second arrest led to a conviction.

    Itzler was arraigned on the New York charges and held at Metropolitan Detention Center on $250,000 bond — or $150,000 cash bail. He must prove that any bail or bond is “clean,” and not from his alleged prostitution business.

    He’s due back in court tomorrow.

    Even if Itzler made bail, he’d continue to be held by New Jersey authorities, because parole-violation warrants are nonbailable.

    Itzler’s sudden fall shocked many in the city’s sex industry, who said he often bragged of close relationships with cops.

    “I hire off-duty cops to do [my] security,” Itzler told The Post last month. “I have the cops on my side.”
    ———————————————————————————————-

    Back then, Jason was on parole, as I would soon learn, but he was also the top sales person. A very aggressive but smooth sales pitch aimed at cocky civil trial lawyers was his specialty. Jason loved to challenge them, and he did so by speaking to them in their tone and language. Since he had no ethics, he also lied through his teeth to them, and they would swallow his lies hook, line and sinker.

    Jason was Dmitri Shubov’s favorite. I imagined that money, not integrity, was the deciding factor for his favor, and I became curious about Jason. Soon after observing him, I found this on the web, and I confronted him about it:

    link to totallycool.net

    Jason assured me that Dmitri had met with him in San Francisco, had hobnobbed with him several times, had spoken with him about his past, and that Dmitri was still willing to stake the reputation of LegalMatch on him. I lost confidence in LegalMatch, I openly questioned Dmitri’s judgment, and I resigned a few weeks later. After recently learning about Dmitri’s indictment, I am glad that I trusted my instincts. Since then, Randy Wells asked me to return several times, but I refused.

    Now, I also question the motives and judgment of Randy Wells and Lance Burton. I do not know whether LegalMatch’s hiring and vetting policy has changed (Jason Itzler moved on -or should I say “moved back”- to bigger and better things), but obviously LegalMatch’s overall sales strategy remains the same, and Lance Burton seems to tow the company line while writing off and belittling those who disassociated themselves from LegalMatch. I was neither interested in lining my own pocket at company or public expense (though I now question whether top management was -and is), nor was I a labor faker.

    My questions to Randy and Lance are these (and please answer the questions):

    1. If LegalMatch is so good (and I still believe that the idea behind LegalMatch is excellent), why must it still lower itself to such aggressive and misleading sales tactics?

    2. A strict commission-based sales policy will always tempt the unethical sales person to lie, and it has tempted Legalmatch into retaining skillfull sales persons, regardless of their ethics. So why not protect LegalMatch’s integrity by hiring professional, ethical sales persons, by paying them a salary, and by paying them more when they do an outstanding job?

    I imagine that money, not integrity, continues to be the deciding factor, and thus it will be their answer.

  2. Randy Wells
    January 19, 2005 | 7:18 pm

    Juan,
    It is good to hear from you. I enjoyed your stay with our company and would again extend the offer to have you contract with us. I was sent to New York towards the end of May, 2003. The company asked me to “build the New York Office”. I was told that there was a separate division, known as the PI division which would share the office space with me. It was clearly explained that the VP of Sales controlled that division of the company and that I was to facilitate them, but had no control over, that division.

    I’d like to point out that the credibility of Jason Lubell (which he told me his name was) is not an area I would rely on for any information. I can personally tell you that Dmitry was not his “friend”, “buddy” or anything else. In fact, Dmitry asked me to personally ascertain the sales practices of this individual. When the company became aware of the full situation of Jason, and of his other interests, they terminated his contract immediately. I know this, because I supplied the information and saw the termination letter the next day.

    Now, the answers to your questions:

    1) We have completely changed the process of the company. It required the firing of the former VP and a year long program of retraining. We use an extended interview process to determine if the attorney is right for the clients who have come to us for help. We generally have 3 phone conversations, and a profile interview before the attorney is submitted to the Executive committee for approval. We check 3 references per attorney, and the applicable state bars.
    It is not a “hard sell” but an educational process.

    2) We have adopted probably one of the strictest ethics polices of any company in existence. We have an ethics chairman (a practicing attorney), and committee that review (confidentially) any reports of un-ethical conduct. In addition, we adopted a draw process to un-incentivize any un-ethical behavior. We have made great strides in giving people the amount of time necessary to properly learn our service, and address attorneys in a professional manner. It has all taken time, but it is why we have survived, and prospered throughout the most difficult time periods of 2004.

    If you would like to call me, I am at 415-946-0896
    Randy Wells

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