When Addison Cameron-Huff started his own practice this past summer, he says he couldn’t find a decent marketplace on the Internet to advertise his services. So he created one.
“There’s Kijiji and Craigslist, but that’s definitely not where I want to be advertising,” says Cameron-Huff.
The recent law grad is the founder of FlatLaw.ca, a legal marketplace where lawyers can set up an account — complete with a profile photo — and advertise their fixed rates alongside their peers. It spares clients from having to phone 10 lawyers just to find out how much each charges for specific services, says Cameron-Huff.
Getting business can be tough for lawyers who specialize in a few specific areas of the law, Cameron-Huff adds.
“But if you could scale through Internet advertising, you can get really good at [what you do], you could do it fast, then you can have a low price and still make more money.”
“The idea of FlatLaw isn’t a race to the bottom on price,” he says. “It’s that people can specialize in what they’re good at.”
There are currently almost 60 ads on FlatLaw.ca. The web site filters lawyers by city and area of law. Listed lawyers include those in criminal law, corporate law, litigation, estate, immigration, and contracts. Through their accounts, they can track the number of page views they’re getting.
Incorporation goes for $650 - $750 on the website. Cameron-Huff himself offers “contract review and discussion” for $700. Most of his practice is on hourly-rate basis, he says, “but there’s certainly a place for flat rates in the market.”
While Toronto lawyers have taken more interest in creating profiles on FlatLaw.ca, the service is nation-wide. Setting up an account is free for now, but Cameron-Huff says he will start charging lawyers $20 per month in a few months.
Younger lawyers like the idea, he says, but it’s been a tough sell for those who have practised for many years.
“You see a lot of resistance from people who’ve been in the field for a long time,” he says, adding it’s likely due to concern about a race to the bottom. “People will like to see the return of the gentleman, general practice lawyer but that’s on the way out.”
Cameron-Huff says he weeds out profiles that are “obviously” not of lawyers but clients themselves have to ensure the advertisers on the web site are legitimate.
Cameron-Huff, whose practice is focused on technology, is also behind the government monitoring service OntarioMonitor.ca.