On­line hub sim­pli­fies the hunt for a lawyer

Weekend Herald - - FRAN O’SULLIVAN - Matthew The­unis­sen matthew. the­unis­sen@ nzher­ald. co. nz

High- pro­file lawyer Mai Chen has launched an “on­line mar­ket­place” for the le­gal pro­fes­sion.

The site, MyAd­vice. Le­gal, is a hub where peo­ple in need of le­gal as­sis­tance can find the most suit­able lawyer for them through a largely au­to­mated process.

“It’s a site where peo­ple with le­gal prob­lems can come, t ype in what their prob­lem i s and get matched with all of the lawyers that have the ex­per­tise and ex­pe­ri­ence to help them solve their prob­lems,” Chen said.

Ap­pro­pri­ate lawyers are then no­ti­fied of the case and given the op­por­tu­nity to ask the client ques­tions be­fore mak­ing a “bid” to take it on.

“Those lawyers get a chance to pitch, the client gets a chance to choose who is the best, who do they feel most com­fort­able with, who do they trust the most, who has the most ex­per­tise and who can give them the best price and ser­vice,” Chen said.

Cur­rently, peo­ple’s avail­able funds were of­ten be­ing com­pletely de­pleted as they were re­ferred from one lawyer to an­other be­fore find­ing the right one, some­thing Chen hoped the site could change.

“So many peo­ple have called me up in the last 30 years and said, ‘ Hey, I’ve got this prob­lem, can you help me’? And I say, ‘ Well that’s great but I don’t spe­cialise in the area’.

“They ask me to re­fer them . . . but quite of­ten you don’t know who to send them to or who’s avail­able.”

Not only would it ben­e­fit clients, the new ser­vice could open new doors for many lawyers, too.

“There are about 12,600 lawyers in New Zealand . . . many of whom are 30, 40 years in the busi­ness but they spe­cialise and are re­ally good at what they do but per­haps don’t have such pro­file,” Chen said.

“Oth­er­wise you get ac­cess to lawyers who might have been in the me­dia but that doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily mean they’re the best lawyer for the job.”

The ser­vice is free for clients but costs $ 199 per month for lawyers once they have se­cured their first case through the site. MyAd­vice. Le­gal then takes 2.5 per cent of the fee that has been agreed with the client.

With an in­creas­ing num­ber of mi­grants in New Zealand, some of whom needed le­gal ad­vice and oth­ers who were them­selves lawyers, stage t wo of the project would in­volve trans­lat­ing the site into Man­darin.

Pic­ture / Ja­son Ox­en­ham

Mai Chen says her new ser­vice can help both lawyers and po­ten­tial clients.

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