CloudLaw Lands American Bar Association: More than 400,000 lawyers added to its searchable database
Traverse City’s CloudLaw, Inc., which has 100,000 lawyers in four states on its database, recently signed on the American Bar Association (ABA), a national lawyer group that has more than 400,000 contacts.
CEO Bob Aicher said CloudLaw addresses a “classic market dysfunction”: the current lack of information clearinghouse where clients can connect to lawyers who meet their needs and location.
CloudLaw’s online legal marketplace enables consumers to find lawyers. Through its Lawyer2Lawyer referral directory, lawyers can refer each other and advertise under a particular practice area.
Most prospective clients use the web to research; Aicher cites a 2013 National Law Review survey that found 96 percent of people seeking legal advice use a search engine.
At CloudLaw’s site, consumers can search and filter by geography, legal need, and expertise. They can also contact the attorney directly and schedule an appointment.
In addition to the ABA, CloudLaw works with bar associations in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. They are in negotiations with 10 other state associations.
Searches on the site are taking off, especially in Michigan, Aicher said.
“We facilitated approximately two million lawyer search queries during the last three months, almost a million in Michigan alone,” he said.
Aicher said the ABA agreement will help scale up the national network among lawyers.
“Our ABA arrangement is here to help, not to circumvent, state bars,” Aicher said. “It [ABA participation] is a means of facilitating development of national network.”
A For-Profit Service, But Free to the Public
CloudLaw’s services and attorney biographies are free. Law students, whom Aicher anticipates will someday become the company’s most active participants, can also post biographies for free.
The company is privately funded by family and friends, only a few of whom are lawyers. Aicher said that means the company “is not bound to any financial overlord.”
Not surprisingly, though, investors hope for a profit.
“Our premise is that we can make money doing this,” he said. “And we think we’re soon to be proven right.”
One of the most promising revenue sources, Aicher said, might turn out to be referrals between law firms. That’s because in addition to the free functions, the website has a password protected area that is accessible only to lawyers.
CloudLaw also sells lawyer-to-lawyer advertisements (Aicher prefers the term “listings.”) The ads – or listings – are mostly aimed at helping law firms build referral business.
Aicher said he hopes a profile builder and a social media archive will also add to the bottom line. Other profit centers might arise as the company extends its reach to other states, he added.
As of press time, CloudLaw is operating under the name of zeekbeek.com, but Aicher expects it to change to cloudlawyers.com.