Have you ever been on Instagram liking your friends’ photos of their mediocre lunch and been thinking “hmm, really wish I could find a lawyer on here?” Ever been on Pinterest pinning clothes for your dream closet and wished you could pin potential attorneys to a board for later use? We’d ask about Facebook, but if you haven’t been on Facebook and thought at least once, “that guy needs the help of a legal professional,” then congratulations on having well-behaved, law-abiding friends and this example not applying to you.
We’d like to introduce you to RSVPLaw. According to the WSJ, RSVPLaw just made attorney-client connections “infinitely easier.” It’s a no cost service to potential clients that “boasts a novel 21st century approach” using social media as the primary contact means to connect clients and attorneys. Feel free to tweet your way to a new attorney-relationship. If you tweet at RSVPLaw, they will respond with a “direct message asking what type of lawyer is needed, what happened, and where you are located.” Enjoy condensing your explanation of “what happened” into 140 character messages. Then they’ll find you someone who practices the kind of law you need in your area.
Don’t fret if twitter isn’t your scene. You can also find them on facebook, instagram, pinterest, tumblr, vine, their own website, and via email. (As a courtesy to our readers, we should probably warn you that grammar and sentence structure were clearly not at the forefront of the RSVPLaw website designers’ minds). They combine “the best of technology and human interaction to provide a warm and efficient service that’s both convenient and compassionate.” How charming.
“But guys, this sounds basically just like the yellow pages in my phonebook!” you might be saying. And you would be basically right. But with RSVPLaw, there’s a human element. So it’s more like if a bunch of lawyers hired someone to read the yellow pages to you. Don’t you feel connected now?
Who is even using RSVPLaw? What client demographic could this possibly appeal to? People who don’t have phonebooks but do have internet but can’t find the yellow pages online? People who don’t have google? So, no one?
More importantly, what legal professional is using RSVPLaw? We say “more importantly” because the lawyers are the ones who will be paying for RSVPLaw, and therefore perpetuating its inane existence. So who’s interested in this? RSVPLaw sounds like they’re rounding up a client list and then charging lawyers for access to that list. Clients who would have gone to some lawyer anyways, but now another middleman is taking a slice of an already shrinking pie.
They’re hoping there are lawyers out there desperate enough for clients that they buy into the RSVPLaw service, hoping that just one client will make the service pay for itself. And maybe it will. With a $6-10 referral fee, IF you meet that client, and IF they retain you and IF they pay you, you’ll get that money back. But what about all the other clients you were matched with that didn’t pick you in that time? Is this really any more cost-efficient than the yellow pages?
Hell, why are we even talking about this, since it’s so obviously awful? Well, we’re talking about it because the WSJ was talking about it. But actually, they were just running a press release from Business Wire. So how much did RSVPLaw pay to get that press release? Probably close to $500, if we had to guesstimate. BusinessWire starts its pricing at $340 for a 400 word press release with higher charges for every 100 words. The RSVPLaw press release was 587 words, not including any contact information.
So we’ve got lawyers who are desperate for any method of bringing in new clients, and a company willing to prey on that desperation to take an unearned cut of the fee. And really, if all you’re doing is collecting names of clients and names of lawyers who you’ve never met and have no basis for recommending, then your cut really is unearned. And as far as we can tell, no one is actually using the service yet. So, we’ve also got this startup legal connection company giving money to a PR firm in hopes that PR firm will generate enough buzz to get it some clients. And that PR firm is almost certainly paying to have its ads placed in the WSJ, probably under the hope that people who come across it will see the WSJ logo, not notice that it’s a press release, and mistakenly think this is a real story, and thus the company being discussed has actually done something noteworthy.
And it has done something noteworthy. It has caused money to spin in a downward spiral so fast that it gives Greece and Spain goosebumps.