Startup corner: Raft of UK law firms sign up to new comparison site Oratto
Oratto encourages consumers to search for lawyers by their expertise, location and Oratto rating, which is calculated from factors such as the number of years’ post qualification experience; whether a lawyer specialises in more than one area of law; their legal qualifications; and the number of case studies, published cases and testimonials they have uploaded to the Oratto website, along with the frequency of updates and other data.
Lawyers can earn Oratto stars for the production of articles and blogs, which are published alongside a free wiki on matters from making a will to student visa applications to guides on commercial litigation issues for businesses.
The new platform offers consumers an online chat facility, in which Oratto says it will assess whether they have a good case or recommend them to a specific Oratto member lawyer. Consumers can also speak to a lawyer for 30 minutes for free and receive an assessment of their case. ‘Oratto Match’ sees the site match a consumer to the best lawyer for their matter. Lawyers can sign-up to become Oratto members on the website and pay for accepted cases on a fee-sharing basis.
Seventy lawyers from 20 law firms have so far signed up to the site, which was co-founded in April 2015 by tech venture capital investor Stephen Edkins and Kevin Nessling, who is CEO of Born Thinking, which assists businesses with online marketing, PR and web development.
Joy Kingsley, senior partner of leading Manchester law firm JMW, said: “We have been approached many times about getting involved with other websites, but we have chosen Oratto as we think they have an excellent understanding of how law firms work and good technical knowledge.”
Oratto’s official launch follows the July publication of an interim report into the legal services market by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which found that competition is not working in the legal sector largely thanks in part to a lack of digital comparison tools.
The report found that information is often not available to consumers in order to allow them to compare “offers” and choose the one that most suits their needs.
As a result, only a minority of individual consumers compare providers before choosing one, with the interim report suggesting that “this may reduce the incentives for providers of legal services to compete.”
Oratto shortly precedes the 1 August launch of Lawbid, a digital platform in which a client posts their legal query to lawyers in their chosen geographical area, who bid for the case directly to the client via a secure Lawbid Portal.