Law and Labor
Lawyers use Web to help clients find LegalMatch
By Alana Roberts / Staff Writer

Some lawyers are turning to nontraditional ways of getting their names out there to potential clients.

One venue is online, where, San Francisco-based LegalMatch, helps lawyers market their services to potential clients through a Web site, The service allows consumers who are looking for a lawyer to type in the details of their case, and the Web site sends the information to lawyers who work in the client's area. The lawyers can then decide whether they want to take the case or not.

Laurie Ziffrin, chief executive of LegalMatch, said the company has been operating since 1999 and has participating lawyers in all 50 states. Company leaders declined to say how many lawyers it has in Nevada but said more than 84,000 Nevada residents have visited the Web site since 2001 and more than 7,000 Nevada residents have filed consumer cases with the Web site.

The lawyers pay to be listed on the Web site, but the service is free to consumers, Ziffrin said. The company does a background check on the participating lawyers, she added.

"It's free for them to come and do intelligent research," Ziffrin said. "If you take a look at the traditional vehicles people use, the yellow pages and word of mouth, those are very static, one-way flow of information (forms of advertising). You don't know if that lawyer is licensed in that state, you don't know if the attorney is taking new clients or is in good standing with the bar."

She said the privately held company earned between $10 and $20 million in annual revenue and the company has increased its attorney participation by 15 percent this past year.

Don Keane, vice president of marketing for LegalMatch, said the Web site speeds the client intake process. He said the form potential clients fill out is detailed enough so that lawyers can quickly make a decision on whether to take a potential case.

"The lawyer is alerted through e-mails," Keane said. "One of the significant advantages we afford the attorney is to decrease the amount of time they spend finding clients. Attorneys are all about billable hours."

He said once there is interaction between the lawyer and the client, those interactions are protected by attorney-client privilege. The Web site is private and no one looks at the consumer's information except for participating lawyers who practice nearest the client, he said.

David Clark, assistant bar counsel for the State Bar of Nevada, said the group oversees attorney advertising. He said he has heard about LegalMatch, but that the organization doesn't have any complaints about the way it operates.

The service offers a small law firm or a solo practitioner an affordable alternative to other forms of advertising, Keane said.

"Our focus is on the solo and small attorney business," he said. "Most solo attorneys struggle to get their names out, because they don't have all sorts of money. It's not uncommon for these smaller attorneys to be forced to be generalists, taking any case that comes through the door. What we do is allow the attorney to focus their practice. They're partnering with us to funnel cases that are specifically focused to their practice."

Keane said the service charges between $2,500 to $100,000 in annual membership fees depending on the area of practice and location of the lawyer's practice.

Gregory Cortese, a Las Vegas lawyer, said as a solo practitioner client intake is a challenge that LegalMatch makes easier. Since signing up with the service in August he has earned back the investment he made with leads from potential clients each month. He said he pays each month toward an annual membership fee.

"The budget for advertising is really not there," Cortese said. "This provides a unique way of getting contact with clients through the Internet, rather than just doing a yellow pages or a billboard ad. It is somewhat costly. However, I have already made that back."

Another way lawyers find clients is through word-of-mouth advertising. Legalink is another vehicle member lawyers use to obtain cases. Legalink is a Swiss nonprofit organization that acts as a network for member attorneys who refer cases to each other around the nation and the world. The members meet twice a year to get to know each other, said Leon Mead of Mead & Pezzillo, a member attorney in Legalink.

Mead & Pezzillo is the only Nevada firm that is a part of the network. The network has more than 2,000 lawyers in 40 countries and more than 80 office locations, according to its Web site. Member attorneys pay a membership fee, but Mead said Legalink is different from an advertising service.

He said the service offers lawyers some of the benefits of having offices around the world, without actually having those offices.

"It's a way to connect our clients to firms in other locations," Mead said. "I know the person I'm referring them to. There is some accountability back to me for that client. It's like having an office in another city but you don't have the (overhead)."

In labor news:

The Nevada Staffing Association received two honors at Staffing World 2005, the annual convention of the American Staffing Association in October.

The group won a merit award for its programs and chapter efforts in 2005 and it won a superior merit award for its legislative efforts. The legislative awards were bestowed on chapters that worked to educate legislators on the role temporary firms have on the economy. The state associations were also evaluated on the level of support they provide the staffing industry through meetings, events, educational seminars and community outreach efforts.

The Nevada staffing industry employs about 16,000 temporary and contract workers each day.

Alana Roberts covers courts and labor relations for In Business Las Vegas and its sister publication, the Las Vegas Sun. She can be reached by email at or at (702) 259-4059.