LegalMatch Apologizes

Several weeks ago, I got a telephone call from Randy Wells, the LegalMatch CEO. Randy wanted to meet with me in person, and (after I was certain the purpose of the meeting was not to serve me with summons) I suggested we meet during LegalTech New York. (Full Disclosure Time: LegalMatch picked up the tab for my trip to NYC.  I did not agree to do anything in exchange for the trip, other than meet with Randy Wells.)

Randy and I had a nice conversation during dinner – most of which was “off the record” – and we discussed LegalMatch’s reputation problem. I told Randy that, though my blog has become sort of a clearinghouse for LegalMatch comments pro and con, my only problem with his company’s service was (and remained) the methods they used to entice lawyers to subscribe to their LegalMatch service.

While Randy assured me that things were changing inside LegalMatch, I suggested to him, in true ClueTrain fashion, that he needed to open a dialog with all those who seem to really hate his company, including the people who continue to leave unfavorable comments on this blog.  

Randy took my advice, and has sent me the following letter that I post (unedited) in its entirety. If you have comments, feel free to leave them to this post, because I know LegalMatch is reading.   Otherwise, call Randy directly. His telephone number is at the end of the letter.

 

OPEN LETTER FROM RANDY WELLS, CEO OF LEGALMATCH

To Our Colleagues in the Legal Community,

 On behalf of LegalMatch, I would like to personally apologize for a number of overly aggressive sales practices conducted by the company in the past. After consulting with many individuals and groups within the legal community and after a thorough review of our internal practices, it became clear that LegalMatch was less than professional in its approach.

As a result, since taking over the position of CEO at LegalMatch, I have implemented a number of improvements to our marketing team and their practices that will immediately address and rectify these issues, including: 

1)  A new training program with focus on best-in-class, professional marketing practices.
2) A new improved compensation system that is no longer 100% commission based – reducing the ‘sell-at-all-costs’ mentality.
3) A reorganization of the marketing team that will make it much more customer-centric and friendly.

In addition, the company’s founder, Dmitry Shubov, understands that in order for the company to continue it’s phenomenal growth (53% 2004) that he must divest his majority stake in LegalMatch.

There are several negotiations in process.

Given Dmitry’s vast experience in the online legal category, LegalMatch will retain his services as an outside consultant.

This decision, along with our new programs and ongoing improvements, marks the end of one chapter in the company’s history, and the start of an exciting, new chapter in our continued growth. Our mission today is to build on these renewed values and principles that aim squarely at serving the legal community. Helping consumers find qualified attorneys and helping attorneys develop and focus a law practice is at the core of our company’s vision today.

Once again, I hope you will accept this apology and invite everyone to give LegalMatch another chance in the near future.

If you have any questions, please feel to email or call me directly.

 
Sincerely,

Randy Wells

CEO of LegalMatch

Randy.Wells@legalmatch.com

415-946-0896

 

17 Responses to LegalMatch Apologizes
  1. Al Nye
    February 17, 2005 | 12:02 pm

    Matt, I like your idea of busting someone’s chops until they figure they have to meet you face to face and offer to fly you to N.Y. in order to do so. Way smart …. (laughing)

    Al Nye

  2. Legal Blog Watch
    February 17, 2005 | 2:17 pm

    THANK MATT HOMANN FOR LEGALMATCH CEO APOLOGY

    Before Easongate, came Ketchumgate — a term that I (and other bloggers) have used to describe the situation in which communications company Ketchum paid commentator and syndicated columnist Armstrong Williams under the table with tax dollars to advoca…

  3. michael walsh
    February 17, 2005 | 8:29 pm

    Legal Match would have to do more than fly me to New York to get my business. There are few firms that have infuriated me more. Although Case Post comes to mind….

  4. Kevin O'Keefe
    February 19, 2005 | 4:57 pm

    Whole thing still bugs me Matt. Their CEO Dmitry Shuboy was indicted by the US Attorney’s office for breaking into the voicemail system of a competitor of Legal Match. Legal Match now says they are going to hire the guy as a consultant.

    Don’t know about you guys but if the head of any law firm I was with was indicted for violation of federal laws, I would not bring him in to help with my law firm afterwards. A good law firm looking to be looked at by customers as being an ethical and a stand-up firm would fire the guy and never alow him within a 100 miles of the place. If the firm did not, I would question what they would do ethically.

    It appears to me you are being used a bit unless you challenge what the company is really doing.

  5. Real Lawyers :: Have Blogs
    February 19, 2005 | 5:55 pm

    LegalMatch Apologizes?

    Matt Homman reports over at the [non]billable hour that LegalMatch apologizes for some heavy handed sales practices Matt and other lawyers experienced in dealing with LegalMatch. The apology came in the form of a letter from the CEO of LegalMatch…

  6. Dmitri Iglitzin
    February 22, 2005 | 11:07 am

    They’re still calling me leaving me misleading messages suggesting that they have specific clients needing my legal services, rather than telling me they they want me to pay them for a referral service. So I see no great signs of a “culture shift.”

    Dmitri Iglitzin
    Seattle

  7. Randy Wells
    February 22, 2005 | 12:50 pm

    Dmitri,

    We are not a referral service. We empower the consumer to choose from an approved attorney.

    All names (including the attorneys) are kept confidential until the consumer has posted their intake, and several of our attorneys have responded.

    The consumer chooses to have their contact information released after they have reviewed the attorney offers pertinent to their case. LegalMatch is much more like a “dating service” than any type of referral program. When our attorneys show a true interest in the consumers legal problem, and the consumer understands it, a match is made.
    Our attorneys are marketing to the consumer. We do not choose the attorney for the consumer as a referral service does. When we call into an area to locate an attorney, it is because we have had more consumer intake cases posted than our current attorneys can handle. We NEVER call an area unless we have consumer cases that are not receiving offer messages. LegalMatch has developed a very sohpisticated data base system called RAM 3. Ram 3 actually segregates the 20,000 plus cases we are receiving per month into county, specialty, and even years of experience needed. When we call and tell you we have consumers, it is the truth.
    We do not sell attorney allocations that cannot be supported. We have a waiting list in many areas of the country. If we sold to “anyone”, there certainly would be no such thing as a waiting list. I would be happy to discuss with you further.

    Randy Wells
    CEO
    LegalMatch
    415-946-0896

  8. Sara C.
    March 6, 2005 | 6:42 pm

    Let’s see now. The founder was indicted for breaking into a voicemail system of a “competitor”. He pled guilty, was given no jail time, was found to not have damaged the business of the “competitor” and the Attorney General’s office, who investigated LegalMatch for months, found no other issues with the LegalMatch company that would warrant additional charges, or any need to suspend this company’s operation? OK. Sounds like that episode is over.

    Meanwhile, if I understand this correctly, irrespective of the forgivable mistake, IMHO, the founder had in researching the competition a little too ardently, the company itself continues to provide a service that helps consumers find attorneys they can trust will not steal their money or leave them hanging out to dry when they are at their most vulnerable condition. Is that right? Hmmm.

    Sounds to me like the very kind of service any American citizen in trouble would want to keep in operation. Considering that 70 million of us Americans a year, find ourselves in some kind of trouble, and that most of us have to rely on the Yellow Pages, which will sell ads to any attorney who can afford to buy one; even those attorneys who have been dis-barred. Or, that we have to rely on our friends and relatives, who really know nothing about finding the right lawyer or competent lawyer, is a scary thought.

    I can understand why some attorneys would be a little upset with LegalMatch. It appears they are changing the order of things. And it’s about time. I know too many people that have made calls to an attorney and gotten nothing but the run around. Calls to ttorneys who seem to believe they are gods or some kind of king of the law and have no interest at all in helping the little guy. Attorneys whose receptionist are rude and impolite and seem to be only interested in protecting the attorneys lunch hour. They act as though there is a line of us versus them in their dealings with consumers. Too many people I come in contact with have told me how humiliating it is to be told by attorney after attorney they must pay a fee just to speak with an attorney for 15 minutes. So, looking at the LegalMatch service from that perspective and under those conditions this service just make a great deal of sense to me.

    I like what I’m reading and hearing about LegalMatch. It appears they have the best interest of the consumer in mind. And, if they are sorting through the hoard of attorneys that are out there, not all of whom are ethical, to make sure that only the trustworthy competent ones are able to assist their clients, then this is a dream come true. Sort of like the consumer index for legal services.

    Were I an attorney I would be trying to find out how to connect with these people rather than bad mouthing the very service the American citizen with legal issues needs. An attorney who misses this point would make me very nervous.

    I think I like LegalMatch. Right on Mr. Wells. It looks like you are doing the right thing for all the right reasons. If LegalMatch is able to change the way Americans retain legal representation then the legal system will benefit greatly in my eyes. And, I too, can feel confident that when I need an attorney, and I know I will someday, I’ll have a place to turn in my dark hour to get respectable representation. What more could I ask for? Thank you…thank you…thank you.

    Who am I? A clerk in one of America’s most respected courtrooms.
    Sara C.

  9. PJ
    March 18, 2005 | 3:23 pm

    E-mail excerpt re: disgraced and disavowed former CEO of LegalMatch (direct from the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Officer):

    12/6/04 28 MINUTES OF SENTENCING held before Judge Alicemarie H. Stotler as to Dmitry Shubov (1) count(s) 1. Supervised release for two years under terms and conditions of the United States Probation Office and General Order 318 and 01-05. Fine of $5,000.00. Special assessment of $100 dismissing count(s) as to Dmitry Shubov (1) count(s) 2, 3, 4. Government’s motion, all remaining counts ordered dismissed.

  10. M Beaulier
    March 23, 2005 | 3:39 pm

    Apparently the only thing Sara C above understands about Legal Match or how they operate is their marketing ads. That is really a poor basis to use in order to support a companyu.

  11. Katrina Kamantauskas-Holder
    July 11, 2005 | 1:29 pm

    Last Friday evening, I came into the office to retrieve my briefcase after eating pizza with my 11-year old daughter. Wait, one new voice mail message. As I listen to the message, I tell my daughter, “it’s someone who sounds like they want to send me some work, but they’re just trying to sell me something.” No way I’m calling them back. Life is easier if you avoid people who misrepresent.

  12. Chris Hoffner
    August 16, 2005 | 8:46 am

    I’m a new solo, and got a call from Duncan Lye in San Francisco, telling me he had a client for me. The guy says, “Hopefully you can help my friend out”, and then at the very end almost mumbling, “I’m from Legal Match”. I haven’t called the number back yet, and after googling these guys, I don’t think I will. Don’t get me wrong, you can never have enough clients, but an indicted CEO, questionable sales tactics and schmoozing the guy responsible for criticizing you? I can only imagine what the subscription price is for these guys…

  13. Dwayne Individual
    April 20, 2006 | 6:13 pm

    The clients who have found good lawyers though legalmatch.com include friends and relatives. After they replaced Utah’s State bar’s referral system, I only use them to find the best specialist attorney I can afford. I realize that makes most attoreys nervous that I, a non-lawyer, would be able to make an informed decision about who I get to represent me rather than the first name I pay for off of a State Ber referral service. It is about time someone made the clients the top priority rather than the attorney.

  14. NotGiven
    June 23, 2006 | 9:08 am

    Randy Wells is the CEO over at case post where Matt Homann sits on the Advisory Board link to casepost.com

    Katrina Kamantauskas-Holder, I hope you explained to your daughter how sleazy most lawyers are and that the general public hates your profession. Did you also explain that LegalMatch has a 98% approval (read: trust) rating from consumers? I wish you would quit misrepresenting things you know nothing about and quit lying to your dauther.

  15. Tracy
    October 24, 2007 | 9:42 am

    My wife and I have now responded to over 300 cases in our county without getting a single client! LegalMatch won’t take our calls and we already filed with the California BBB in preperation to file a lawsuit. I would advise all attorneys to carefully consider their track record before joining. We have been at this 6 months and it is nothing but frustration and free advice.

  16. Ron Berman
    November 16, 2007 | 3:08 pm

    I worked at legal match for 6 months. The management including
    Randy Wells who worked there at the time were very aware of
    the unethical practises that were used and pushed on the sales
    people. I left because I couldn’t sell the garbage they were selling.

    Deceipt was the order of the day and I never spoke to a client
    who was happy with the service while I was there.

  17. Ron Berman
    November 16, 2007 | 3:08 pm

    I worked at legal match for 6 months. The management including
    Randy Wells who worked there at the time were very aware of
    the unethical practises that were used and pushed on the sales
    people. I left because I couldn’t sell the garbage they were selling.

    Deceipt was the order of the day and I never spoke to a client
    who was happy with the service while I was there.

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