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Are Uber-Like Law Practices Coming or Going?

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By William Vogeler, Esq. on June 05, 2017 7:00 AM

A few years ago, it seemed like Uber was a business model for success. Today, not so much.

But the idea of the Uber-like law practice still persists. Like, wouldn't it be great if you could pick up a new client as easy as picking up a passenger who just ordered your services on a cell phone?

On-demand lawyers may thrive in the future, but not yet. As many have learned, it's not that easy to create a new way to deliver legal services.

Uber Has Stalled

From class-action litigation to criminal investigation, Uber has problems. The biggest issue so far is probably whether its drivers are employees or contractors.

Uber has agreed to pay $100 million to drivers to settle the question for now, but that was just one class-action in civil court. Other courts and regulators may have different takes on the question.

Will the same kinds of questions arise for future Uber lawyers? If they work directly with clients, they may be more like independent contractors.

But then will the Uberish connection -- a web-based service that will route clients to the lawyers --  actually be a referral service? This may be a rocky road to delivering legal services.

Is There Another Way?

Some companies have tried to become the Uber of law practice as the delivery of legal services has gone new tech. TechCrunch reported last year that venture capitalists sank more than $150 million into consumer-focused legal startups recently.

But few have made it to a second round of funding, according to reports, because investors want to see better and faster results. The problem, the startups say, is lawyers are too expensive and they don't adapt readily to technology.

"I have a philosophy on lawyers adopting technology," said Jules Miller of Hire an Esquire. "They're like penguins. The first one jumps in the water and if it doesn't get eaten by a shark, the rest follow."

Meanwhile, the lure of Uber-easy money is keeping lawyers interested. Monica Zent, writing for Huffington Post, says it will happen.

"While no one knows for sure, make no mistake, an 'Uber for Lawyers' is coming," she said. "The sooner the legal market realizes this, the better."

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