Ex-Shearman?s partner bankrolls barrister-matching site
PUBLISHED April 5, 2013
Friday 05 April 2013 by Catherine Baksi
An online service promoting fast direct access to silks and junior barristers, akin to dating site match.com, will launch this week, matching clients to barristers without the need for a solicitor.
myBarrister is the brainchild of former Shearman & Sterling partner and dual-qualified US lawyer and barrister Ronald de Koven, who provided funding to set up the site and run the early phase of the marketing campaign to bring clients to it.
The site matches individuals and businesses looking for legal advice with specialist barristers in their area. It can also be used by solicitors looking to instruct counsel.
Member barristers or their clerks must respond to enquiries within 24 hours and give an initial free half-hour conference with clients they start a discussion with.
The service is run by three directors - consultant Bruce Webster, who was the architect of DLA Piper's global brand, Chris Bean, whose marketing and management roles included posts at Deloitte, Lawrence Graham and several chambers, and veteran chambers consultant Jonathan Maskew (pictured).
Maskew said the aim was to start with 150 barristers and generate good leads for them. When the site goes live on 10 April, it will list 70 barristers at 12 sets around the country.
Explaining why it is needed, Webster told the Gazette: 'It's hard to get fast, specialised, good value legal advice. The high street law firm is evaporating and traditional law firms are getting bigger and are less interested in private client work.'
At the same time, sophisticated buyers of legal services are 'taking apart the legal process', in a way that is suited to using the bar, Webster noted, though barristers had been slow to respond to the opportunities this presented.
He described the site as a 'matchmaking service between barristers and the market, like match.com'.
Barristers will pay an annual £1,200 subscription to create their own profile on the site. No commission is charged on fees received and the site is free for clients, both lay and professional, to use.
It is open to barristers with a current practicing certificate who are qualified to do direct access.