Legalmatch and Me

Of all of the amazing things that have happened to me because of this blog, perhaps the most interesting (and hardest to explain) is my relationship with LegalMatch. 

Back in April 2004 I wrote a short post titled Why I’ll Never Use LegalMatch, in which I took the company to task for its sales tactics.  I’d been writing this blog for a few months and thought nothing of the post or the title.  The post attracted (and continues to attract) dozens of comments about LegalMatch — some positive, but most negative.  I followed up the original post with several more, including some interesting give-and-take with LegalMatch executives.  Ultimately, I received an offer from LegalMatch CEO Randy Wells to meet him in New York.  The result of that meeting was this Apology from LegalMatch posted on my blog. 

LegalMatch next asked me to come to San Francisco to visit their offices and meet with their people.  I got a peek inside LegalMatch’s technology, met some of the company’s people, and extended an invitation to Randy Wells to come to LexThink. 

After LexThink, Randy asked if we (my LexThink partners Dennis Kennedy, Sherry Fowler and I) would do a “private” LexThink event for LegalMatch in lieu of their traditional management retreat.  We agreed, and I facilitated their management retreat last weekend.  LexThink, Inc. charged LM $5,000.00 for the event.

At the retreat, I saw forty LegalMatch managers brainstorming about how to make their company better.  I also engaged many of them in (sometimes heated) discussions about how their methods had alienated folks like me and countless other potential customers.

Gullibility Break:  Look, I know my post and the resulting comments have cost LegalMatch hundreds of thousands of dollars (this figure comes from someone outside of LM).  Just Google LegalMatch, and you’ll understand why, though I’m a bit concerned because at least once a week, someone Googles “LegalMatch” over and over and follows each link back to my blog posts — perhaps to keep my year-old post high up on Google’s first page?

I’ve also learned that many of the internal policies (and people) that led to the things I complained about have changed.  If my experiences with LegalMatch are part of some sort of “grand plan” to sucker me in to coming over to the LM “dark side,” I’ve got to admit that it has been masterfully planned, acted, and executed.

Starting today, I’m changing the title of my original post to “Don’t Sell Like This.”  The comments will remain active, and the content won’t change.  The titles of the rest of my LM posts will stay the same, and I’ll keep the LegalMatch category alive.

Full Disclosure Break:  While a part of me thinks I’m an idiot for not demanding that LegalMatch pay me $XXX,000.00 for removing all of the LM posts from my blog, I’ve not gotten anything personally from LegalMatch for writing this post or doing what I’m doing.  The only compensation I’ve received from the company is the value of two airplane flights, a few nights in a hotel room, a couple of lunches and two dinners for the meetings in NYC and SF.  I’ve received no promises and have no expectations. 

I’m ultimately doing what I’m doing because I think it is right, and because I’ve gotten to like a lot of folks at LegalMatch.  Will I work with LegalMatch in the future?  Possibly.  Will LegalMatch be involved with LexThink in some way?  Maybe.  Is this some horrible violation of blogger ethics?  I’m sure you’ll tell me so.  Thanks for your time, and now back to regular blogging.

 

20 Responses to Legalmatch and Me
  1. Jim Durbin
    May 25, 2005 | 7:47 pm

    No violation of blogger ethics. You’ve been transparent, honest, and tried to correct what you thought was a wrong.
    Legal Match corrected your complant in your view, why should they continue to pay for it?

    No law against bloggers making money. Not anymore. That was so 2003.

  2. SL Jimison
    May 25, 2005 | 10:43 pm

    It’s interesting that you have changed your opinion somewhat about LegalMatch. However I keep hearing from colleagues who tell of more deceptive practices by these salespersons. I’m not interested in their product – I don’t like their sales techinique, not crazy about their business model, and have no intention of doing business with them. LegalMatch has a long, long road to regaining our trust. Until then, I’ll allocate my marketing dollars for something more reliable, like Google AdWords.

  3. Dave
    May 26, 2005 | 1:47 am

    Matt,
    Has LegalMatch dumped Dmitri Shuboy yet? Their prior CEO was indicted by the US Attorney’s office for breaking into a competitor’s voicemail system. They fired him, yet rehired him as a consultant.

    I was contacted a few months ago by one of Legal Match’s reps and asked about Mr. Shuboy and was told that he was still tangled up in the company because he was one of the primary stockholders/owners of the company.

    Regardless of their conscientious managers, if they are owned/consulted by a crook, it’s hard for me to affiliate my name with them.

  4. Enrico Schaefer
    May 27, 2005 | 7:30 am

    Matt: Wow. All that happened before I entered the Blogosphere. My thoughts are as follows:

    Give credit to LegalMatch for not threatening to sue you and forcing a battle on first amendment rights. We all know that would be the first response of many companies and their attorneys.

    While people might think you have sold out, no one can say you played ‘hide the ball.’ Disclosure is what makes the commercial side of this communication tool work.

    Opinions about products by bloggers provide value. People have a right to know what works and what doesn’t without wasting their money on slick marketing tactics. The market will sort out the rest.

    I list the products I use on my web site so that other attorneys who wish to use my technology template, can do so.
    link to tcattorney.typepad.com

    I realize that most attorneys could not put together the technology package I have assembled without hiring expensive consultants. But I don’t hesitate to tell the world when products don’t live up to their promise, or companies engage in tactics which I find questionable.

    Product reviews are an important part of the blog value proposition. As much as we all agree that blog postings should be preserved, there is room for post-posting discretion to edit when necessary.

  5. lex icon
    May 28, 2005 | 1:39 pm

    You were supposed to be the Chosen One!

  6. Kevin O'Keefe
    May 31, 2005 | 6:49 pm

    I appreciate your candor Matt.

    Would I do what you are doing? No. Having been asked to work with LegalMatch on marketing/pr via blogs, I declined. Having been critical of some of their practices myself, including using as a consultant the person who caused their earlier problems, I could not risk my audience thinking I was bought off. In addition I told them it could look bad for them if anyone thought they were using me because of my earlier criticism of the company.

    I am not saying that you have been bought off, and I am sure you believe you have not been, but having done trial work for 17 years before my present career, I could see jurors finding that to be the case.

    LegalMatch and their investors have millions of dollars invested in the company. In addition the value of the company, assuming they do a good job, could be in the tens of millions of dollars, if not higher. Being an internet company, their target customers go to the net to check them out. On page 1 of Google, there is (was) your post on why you would never use LegalMatch. I wouldn’t be surprised if the number one searched word/phrase bringing people to your blog was for the keyword legalmatch. That was costing them millions of dollars in the long term.

    I am sure they gained from an idea and management standpoint by the work LexThink did at their retreat but they gained far more with your changing your position on your blog.

    Just do a search at Google for legalmatch now – your post on why you would never use legalmatch is gone and been replaced by this post at number 4 on the first page that’s just titled ‘LegalMatch.’ What’s that worth? A ton – perhaps even the survival of the company.

    I don’t know Matt. It could all be on the up and up on their part but throw the story out to some guys sitting around the bar some evening (where I looked for the average person’s view when looking for what a jury a would think) and I gotta believe many folks would think you have been bought off. I personally hope not.

  7. Disgruntled
    June 3, 2005 | 11:12 pm

    Has LegalMatch dumped Dmitri Shuboy yet?

    His office is on the first floor of their headquarters on Harrison Street in SOMA (not the financial district as they claim) Just walk in, and turn to your right.

  8. Not Quite Postal
    June 3, 2005 | 11:29 pm

    As an LM “AM” I have regularly turned around the CEO was indicted story by relaying the fact that “Hey look, do you think that if we didn’t have a great business model that works for both clients (it is all about clients that need HELP RIGHT NOW!!!!!) and attorneys, we would still be in business after this negative publicity? Dmitri no longer has any ties…blah, blah, blah…” but all you have to do is visit the HQ and you will see him as you enter.

  9. frank bischa
    June 30, 2005 | 3:13 pm

    Matt,

    You have become a major a sell-out. Hope you’re getting good use out of the five thousand. Its funny how some people “see” things differently after getting $$ from a client, one word for you: pathetic

  10. Kreig Mitchell
    August 30, 2005 | 10:55 am

    Even when you get past LegalMatch’s sales techniques, you still have to confront the realities of their service.

    I signed up for LegalMatch based on the statement that they had over 40 clients that were waiting for my services. I went to great length to tell LegalMatch what my services are (I am a tax attorney). I even pointed them to my website (www.irstaxtrouble.com). Yet when I accessed their system I quickly realized that they did not have 40 clients waiting for my services — far from it. (In all fairness they may have had one client, two if you count a really old case).

    Since LegalMatch has not been able to bring in any viable tax cases they show me estate planning and property tax cases. The only problem is that 1) I prefer to handle tax controversy cases and 2) I can only handle federal tax matters on a nationwide basis, not estate or property tax cases. So all LegalMatch has to offer is work that I cannot legally do and work in practice areas in which I did not hire LegalMatch to deliver clients in.

    As a side note, estate and property tax cases typically require local representation as most of those matters must be handled in person. So even if I were legally able to accept the work and I were inclined to do so, I would in all likelihood not be hired by the client as other local attorneys would also be bidding on the same client.

    If that isn’t bad enough, after I signed up for LegalMatch they apparently stopped their webmarketing efforts for tax cases. In fact, my website ended up being ranked better and was bringing in more business — all without my doing any marketing for the site.

    So after about two months LegalMatch has netted me about four phone calls — two for civil litigation, one for a criminal case, and one tax case (which ended up being mostly a pro bono case).

    LegalMatch has yet to produce one profitable client. If they can’t deliver they can’t deliver. So perhaps we should be discussing LegalMatch’s service in addition to their sales tactics.

  11. Kreig Mitchell
    September 16, 2005 | 12:39 pm

    I have decided to add a follow-up post to update everyone on my experience with LegalMatch since my prior post. I think that it is important for me to write this post so that others who are contemplating working with LegalMatch get a feel for LegalMatch.

    As you can read from my prior post, I had some questions about LegalMatch’s services. Do I think LegalMatch could have initially done a better job in setting expectations? Yes. However, I have to say that they have really gone out of their way to try to remedy the deficiencies. The marketing management staff has been really responsive. They reformulated how the cases were assigned to me (how cases are listed, key words, and other misc. computer nerd stuff) and it now looks like LegalMatch is going to work out for me. Time will be the best test, so perhaps I will write to give you another update in a few months.

    I am not one to write an endorsement for any company (and I am not doing that
    here); however, I do think that LegalMatch’s response says a lot about their
    company. They may not be perfect, but at least they are willing to work with
    their attorneys. I can’t say that many companies would do that these days.

  12. The Wired GC
    January 17, 2006 | 7:59 am

    FindLaw + FindLawyer = LegalConnection?

    Is it a case of mission creep?
    This may be old news, but it was news to me. Thomsons FindLaw seems to be extending its reach from finading a lawyer, to having one found for you.
    If you go to their home page (the default on the …

  13. Name
    March 31, 2006 | 6:13 pm

    And somehow legalmatch.com is still ripping people off, blatantly violating state lawyer referral service statutes, and getting rich off of poeople in the meantime.

  14. Darrell
    April 26, 2006 | 9:24 am

    Research before use. Tons of materials in archives. Using them in this
    state, or a similar service, will result in disciplinary proceedings.

    ============================================
    Darrell G. Stewart
    Law Office of Darrell G. Stewart, PLLC
    8531 N. New Braunfels, Suite 100
    San Antonio, Texas 78217
    210.826.3063 Phone
    210.826.3069 Fax
    mailto:darrell.stewart@abanet.org

  15. Lisa
    May 15, 2006 | 8:32 pm

    I agree. It is one thing to risk losing your law license by using LegalMatch.com, but it is quite another to support a company with such a poor track record.

    I used to get calls from them, and they would spend the time trying to size me up. To see how much they could charge me. After telling them that I found this site and others that outline the numerous complaints and unethical practices, they kept trying to just reduce the price. It was as if they thought that their unethical past could be overcome by providing a reduced price (which was still really steep — much much more than anything I would have paid — even for a company with a good track record). After a while their calls just seemed humorous to me. I guess they sensed that they were not going to take my money, so they stopped calling. I could use a laugh; I kind of wish they would call back.

  16. Lisa
    May 15, 2006 | 8:32 pm

    I agree. It is one thing to risk losing your law license by using LegalMatch.com, but it is quite another to support a company with such a poor track record.

    I used to get calls from them, and they would spend the time trying to size me up. To see how much they could charge me. After telling them that I found this site and others that outline the numerous complaints and unethical practices, they kept trying to just reduce the price. It was as if they thought that their unethical past could be overcome by providing a reduced price (which was still really steep — much much more than anything I would have paid — even for a company with a good track record). After a while their calls just seemed humorous to me. I guess they sensed that they were not going to take my money, so they stopped calling. I could use a laugh; I kind of wish they would call back.

  17. joni
    June 4, 2006 | 1:39 pm

    I used legalmatch for a period of time. They talked me into signing a multi-year contract at a very steep cost. They promised that I would get business from using their service; however, I didn’t get any business from legalmatch and so I ended up wasting my money. The cost almost put me out of business. When I asked them for a refund — due to their not living up to their bargain — they simply stopped taking my calls. I sent them a demand letter — which they didn’t answer.

    Looking into it further, they included an arbitration provision in their agreement which would have requried me to travel to San Francisco and cost me several thousand dollars to dispute. I opted not to fight them, but to just pay off the large debt (financed through their company at 10% interest).

    It is unfortunate that con-artists like legalmatch are out there.

  18. Truth
    June 11, 2006 | 12:01 pm

    LegalMatch’s Biggest competition is CasePost.com

    On their About Us page here:
    link to casepost.com

    ADVISORY BOARD

    Matt Homann, President of Lex Think and author of the [Non] Billable Hour Blog

    Now why would someone sitting on the advisory board of a company that is anti LegalMatch allow a complaint forum of undocumented anecdotes about LegalMatch to remain high in the organic search engine results?

    Do you get paid by CasePost Matt? If so, souldn’t you list that in your credentials when you talk about LegalMatch? I think it conflicts you out of hosting this discussion, but I am not a lawyer and not therefore not slimy enough to even consider doing what you are doing.

    Oh, by the way, here is what Consumer Reports (a source that does not think itself lord over a service industry the way attorneys do) says about LegalMatch:
    link to consumerwebwatch.org
    One alternative approach lets consumers look before they leap. LegalMatch.com of San Francisco and CasePost.com of Irvine, CA, both match clients to lawyers, who then bid to take a case. Clients can review the proposals – all from attorneys who meet certain standards – and decide which, if any, they want to hire.

    The approach has been controversial in the legal profession because it competes with non-profit referral services certified by the national and state bar associations. In June, the Utah State Bar set off a national debate when it decided to replace its referral service with LegalMatch.com. “We did due diligence, and it was very impressive,” says Toby Brown, a Utah Bar spokesman. “It may be a leap of faith.”

    Consumers should also perform as much due diligence as possible before hiring a lawyer found online. Find out if disbarred lawyers have been weeded from online listings and whether the site requires attorneys to meet certain education or professional standards to be listed.

    So pick a side Matt. Either online attorney/client matching or against. You are obviously pro, based off how this comment began. At least explain you work for LegalMatch’s competition.
    Please stop the mudslinging festival against your personal interests and start considering how undermining the legal profession sounds when a non lawyer stumbles onto Blawgs.

  19. DwayneIndividual
    June 11, 2006 | 12:18 pm

    link to sev.prnewswire.com

    For those 1 or 2 attorneys who know who the Federal Trade Commission is, above I provided the link to what they think is best for the consumer.

    For the rest of the legal profession. You are vendors of a service. Nothing more. Whatever helps the mass consumer make a better choice, regardless of how you are affected as the merchant, is seen as a good thing in our society. By being quite against this change, even after it is endorsed by state bars and the FTC, all you are saying to your future clients is, “I am still god in this profession and screw you for looking for optional ways of finding us.”

    To those attorneys who do not like getting called by salespeople: tough!
    You are a publicly advertised business (although most are not very professional) vending a service like a masseuse or a call girl, whoever can pay that comes through the door. Am I wrong? If you are against B2B Telemarketing, fine, but don’t hate a company based solely off of their use that marketing tactic.

    Lastly, using LegalMatch, CasePost, LegalFish or any of the other findanattorneyquick services, is approved by the government and WILL NOT GET YOU DISBARRED. Behaving like you are all knowing will.

  20. Jack
    July 17, 2006 | 11:57 am

    Speaking of thorough background checks that Legalmatch and Casepost claim to do, I know of one lawyer with Casepost in Oregon who has been plublicly deciplined twice including a short suspension!

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