Lawdingo raises $690K to help you find a lawyer

Steven Loeb · October 30, 2013 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/32df

The site, which helps people find and connect with lawyers online, has now raised $850,000

Unless you are a person with a lot of money, chances are you do not often have a need for a lawyer. And that is because, well, rich people get sued a lot. And normal people don't.  

But what happens when someone like you or me does need to contact someone about a legal problem? We either talk to the lawyers that are either in our family or circle of friends, or we randomly pick a name out of a phonebook. I don't have to tell you that this is not a particularly effective way of getting someone to help you.

Lawdingo is attempting to change that by making it easier for people to find, and connect to, a lawyer. And now the company has raised $690,000 in seed funding to make it a reality, it was announced Wednesday.

The funding came from a group of angel investors that included: Kartik Hosanagar, a Professor at Wharton School; Nathaniel Stevens, the founder of Yodle and Punchey; Gene Alston of Groupon and Paypal; Andrew Moroz of Highbridge Capital; Igor Ryanbenkiy of Altair Capital; and Igor Matsanyuk of IMI.VC.

The company had previously raised $160,000 in seed funding from a group that included Y Combinator, Andreessen Horowitz, General Catalyst, Start Fund and Maverick Capital, along with a group of angel investors. This latest round brings the total funding to $850,000.

Founded in December 2011, New York City-based Lawdingo is an online platform that connects people with attorneys for virtual legal consultations by phone, video chat, appointment or email.

It allows users who need help with a legal problem to browse through a set of attorneys who have signed up on the site, along with ratings and reviews added by other clients. Once the user has found the right attorney, they will be contacted by phone.

If someone is being evicted from their apartment, for example, and they don’t think that it is legal, they can come to site and search by the type of lawyer they need, in this case one who specialized in tenant grievances. They put in their phone number, and they will then get a call from lawyer in 2 or 3 minutes.

The initial consultation is most likely free, but any further consultations, or fees that come from services, such as documents that need to be drawn up, can also be paid through the site. 

The site is growing quickly, doubling the number of lawyers who have signed up to 1,200 in just the last four months. The company charges a subscription fee of $121 a month to the lawyers, though those that signed up before the site implemented that fee currently do not pay. 

The new money will be used to invest in the product, Nikhil Nirmel Lawdingo's founder and CEO, told me in an interview. It will go toward putting more onto the marketing side, including putting out more videos and getting the word out on online channels.

"We want to make the experience better, and that means refine details and investing in new evolutions of the product," Nirmel said.  That includes making a move toward mobile, which he said the company hadn’t done much with until recently.

"Our app is centered around phone calls and messaging, so it makes sense to let them connect on the go," Nirmel told me. "It would also allow lawyers to manage their schedule and availability when not at their desk."

There are other services out there, such as LegalZoom and Rocket Lawyer, that offer similar services, as well as directories like Yelp. What separates Lawdingo from the competition is that  it doesn't charge consumers.

"We are about building identification and helping to build relationships with the right lawyers," said Nirmel. "We are focusing on discovery, communication and payments."

The big problem that people have, he said, is identifying the right lawyer and getting that initial consultation. Those other companies do not "handle the communication aspects of the initial interaction."

On top of that, companies like LegalZoom and Rocket Lawyer are all about getting around needing a lawyer, so it puts them in an awkward position to try to then connect customers to one.

Down the road, Nirmel has big plans for site, which include expanding to new verticals, most notably medical.

"Broadly, we would like to be able to connect people to licensed professionals in a variety of areas," he said. "My hope is that one day we become the medium for online delivery for professional services."

If what Nirmel ultimately wants to do sounds a bit like Pearl, then that is not a coincidence.  

"We want to be the next generation of the Pearl model," he said, though with a "subtle difference," playing up the more social aspect of the site, which values relationships between clients and professionals.

"It will be almost a dating site of sorts for people and professionals," he said.

(Image source: https://heisenbergchronicles.tumblr.com)

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Lawdingo, Inc.

Startup/Business

Joined Vator on

Lawdingo connects people with attorneys for virtual legal consultations by phone, video chat, appointment or email.

We are creating the easiest way for people to get legal advice from attorneys right from their computer.

Founded by Nikhil Nirmel, the former business intelligence lead at Yelp, Lawdingo aims to build a strong consumer brand that becomes recognized globally as the place to engage lawyers for advice or services, entirely online.

Pearl.com

Startup/Business

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Pearl.com is the world’s largest source of professionals online, and provides people with easy access to 10,000 independent, verified professionals in 700 specialties for one-on-one answers to just about any question or concern. Whether you need a medical explanation, help with a legal question or a way to save money on your car, tech or appliance repair, Pearl.com gives customers access to “wisdom when you want it™.”

Formerly known as JustAnswer®, the company has been growing revenue an average of 123 percent year over the last five years and currently generates revenue in 196 countries and 22 currencies.  Pearl.com was founded in 2003 by serial entrepreneur Andy Kurtzig as a way for his then-pregnant and worried wife to talk with an OB/GYN about her round-the-clock health concerns in a more convenient way. Today, the company has evolved into a platform for people around the world to communicate directly with verified professionals in hundreds of categories as varied as pet behavior and tax law to antique appraisal and computer repair, anytime, from anywhere, affordably.

Recognized by the Better Business Bureau with an A+ rating and boasting relationships with brands such as Dr.Phil.com, PetMD and Car Talk, Pearl.com is now one of the largest and fastest growing providers of access to professional services online. The company has increased revenue for 33 quarters since inception and grown an average of 123% per year since 2008. The Board of Directors includes Charles Schwab, Larry Sonsini (Observer), Bob Finocchio and Sandy Robertson.

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Nikhil Nirmel

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