LegalReach, lawyer social networks, and the end of Blackberry

Attorneys are increasingly using social media, and a new online legal service is taking advantage of attorneys’ desire to connect with trusted peers.

LegalReach is a new startup on the legal scene and we recently spoke with the founder Avlok Kohli.  Inspired by the success he saw at previous startup Doximity in connecting doctors with each other, the network has since grown to include 1 in 4 US doctors, Kohli saw the potential for a network that did something similar in the legal space.

Kohli’s unique angle on creating this network was starting with alumni networks based around law schools.  Initial access was invite-only so that members who had already joined the LegalReach network were prompted to invite their former classmates to join. Surprisingly the network found more traction initially among older more established attorneys, these attorneys valued the connections to an alumni network much more than recent graduates who had existing social networking ties.

Attorneys began using the network to refer business to each other, sometimes referring clients and something hiring each other as contract attorneys. LegalReach became a matchmaking service among attorneys.  About 42% of LegalReach attorneys come from large law firms and they are well-distributed geographically across the country.

When the network reached the milestone of 10,000 attorneys, LegalReach opened the website to consumers. Now consumers can request services through the website and attorneys who wish to contact a consumer can pay to send them a private message.  While in the future there may be additional revenue streams, currently the focus is on emulating the proven success of the pay for leads model pioneered by Google Adwords.

Now that LegalReach is targeting consumers, the next big challenge will be marketing and distribution. They are focused on online paid advertising networks and it seems likely with time they will find an arbitration model that brings in affordable leads despite the competitive keywords. Perhaps more interesting, they are considering a new type of  marketing services that would encourage attorneys to reach out to their client lists in order to make referrals to other attorneys.

While LegalReach is not yet mobile optimized, attorneys can interact with the website by clicking links in the automated emails that they receive. From this data, LegalReach has pulled some interesting statistics on the smartphone market share among attorneys:

  • 25% click email links from a computer using Outlook
  • 25% click email links from an iPhone
  • Android is barely present
  • Blackberry is nonexistent

Such a strong preference for iPhone over Android is surprising, though higher income individuals are associated with iOS devices.  But more significant is the absence of Blackberry.  This marks the end of an era.  If attorneys are no longer using the devices once fondly termed the ‘crackberry’ due to its addictive qualies, who is using them?