Legal help for a small business owner can be quite a financial setback, no matter how necessary the help may be.
A new Web service allows small businesses to pay for just the services they need from an attorney. UpCounsel, which launched last year, lets attorneys submit quotes on specific services posted by small business owners an others. Gigaom compares the service to TaskRabbit, a site that allows part-time workers to bid online for various tasks and errands posted by members.
As with TaskRabbit participants, attorneys working on UpCounsel are screened before being permitted to participate. In addition to a quote on the particular service posted, attorneys are permitted to post a brief personal message to help clients make up their minds.
In a post on the official UpCounsel Blog, co-founder and CEO Matt Faustman explains the rationale behind the service:
We at UpCounsel saw some problems in the market for legal services – especially for those offered to small and mid-sized businesses.
Faustman, a former practicing small business attorney, said he’d been inspired to found UpCounsel after an experience with two startup entrepreneurs who, he said, had taken a DIY approach to legal documentation when setting up their company.
Faustman said the pair had used a well-known online legal document service to set up their company with disasterous effects. The business’s set up turned out to be all wrong costing the partners thousands in legal bills just to fix the problem.
He said UpCounsel was created to addressed a specific issue. Small business owners cannot afford the costs of legal fees, especially when starting out, and resort to doing many of the legal tasks themselves to cut costs.
Current online resources of legal information are sometimes lacking and following their advice can sometimes lead to additional problems, Faustman said.