Subscription-based ‘legal insurers’ revolutionise the industry

Subscription-based legal advice companies are set to upset the legal industry, improving access to legal services.

Edward Mallet came up with the idea of a subscription based workplace legislation specialist when he was a barrister practicing in England.
 
Now, just four years after the company’s inception in Australia, Employsure has been awarded the Growth Company of the Year for 2015, now servicing over 7,000 clients nationally.
 
“Like any employment lawyer, many of the cases that I worked on were relatively low value, such as unfair dismissal claims, and did not justify the legal cost of getting advice and representation on the old model,” Mallet told NZ Lawyer.
 
Small claims not worth the legal fees were rife, Mallet said, and as a result he began to explore other ways to adequately service his clients.
 
The result was Employsure which operates a 24/7 advice line and works as a subscription, similar to legal insurance.
 
Across the Pacific, many Americans don’t access legal services because of the high costs and the number of working lawyers has dropped by more than 50,000 in the last decade. 
 
Back in 2010, LegalZoom found a way to tackle both.
 
They find existing attorneys, typically in small, suburban offices to man their advice line, offering subscribers unlimited 30-minute phone calls for a small fee, and the option to hire a lawyer for additional work.
 
“We want to democratize law,” said CEO John Suh.
“If the legal system only works for the one per cent of Americans that can afford it, and 99 per cent can’t use the benefits, that’s not a system, it’s an oligarchy.”
 
The lawyers, who can easily lose their contracts following a poor review, can come and go whenever they like. 
 
“Unlike a more traditional law firm setting, there's no expectation of obligation to stay late,” said A.J. Darab, admitting that his pay cut was worth it.

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