Many early-stage startups share one common costly expense: legal fees.
Law Pivot, a Q&A site for legal questions around starting a business - hopes to lower those fees by providing startups with an alternative. On Thursday, it launched its service to the public. The company, which was founded by two attorneys, Jay Mandal and Nitin Gupta, had been in limited beta this February to get initial feedback from users, including myself.
After having tested it out, I can honestly say it's been an excellent service for my questions, ranging from patents, to options and taxes, to employee HSA accounts.
(On the left is a screen shot of the question I asked about patents and some the responses.)
"The billable hour of $500 to $600 per hour is no longer feasible for a startup," said Nitin Gupta, co-founder and VP of sales and marketing. “A lot of startups are afraid of asking their lawyers questions because they’re afraid of being charged."
Law Pivot allows startups to ask general questions to its current network of 80 attorneys, without having to pay the per-hour rate.
The way it works is that a person asks a legal question and then tags it under a certain category, say "patents" or "intellectual property." Then Law Pivot shows its network of attorneys, who've said they're experts in patent law. A person can see the profiles and choose up to 10 attorneys to send the question to. Then the attorneys can reply. Based on my experience, some attorneys take the time to have a dialogue with you so you truly get a solid answer.
So, how much does the service cost? Law Pivot plans to charge a $350 per month subscription fee for 10 questions per month, or $80 per individual question. Each question can go out to at most 10 attorneys. What if a customer is unhappy with his/her question? "In terms of money back, we are still thinking about ways to address this issue," said Nitin, adding that the service will be free for all users through the end of September.
Law Pivot hasn't raised any funds yet. To date, the founders and five other employees have bootstrapped the service. In fact, they're all working out of the CEO's house.
Within six months, Law Pivot hopes to have a service in place whereby users can put out contracts for attorneys to bid on.