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Defend Your Startup: UpCounsel CEO and Co-Founder Matt Faustman

It's a match made in heaven: lawyers looking for work (it's the worst market for attorneys in nearly 20 years) and people hoping to avoid $500-an-hour fees. Think TaskRabbit for lawyers and you get the new startup called UpCounsel. But is it legit?

How do we know these aren't underqualified lawyers who can't land real jobs?
We interview every candidate and do an in-depth check of his or her credentials with the state bar. We don't accept people who are assholes or have less than two years of experience. In fact, we turn away up to 75 percent of applicants.

How can you establish a personal relationship with an attorney you find online?
We make the introduction, but the client and the attorney take it from there. We see a lot of relationships that continue on the phone, through email, and in person.

What's an example of a case that was easier to deal with online than in the traditional way?
Someone posted who was getting divorced but was embarrassed to ask around for a lawyer. At the time we didn't have a single divorce attorney on our site. We called and emailed 33 Bay Area attorneys and ended up with five experienced, friendly ones.

Aren't law firms going to be pissed off at you?
Mega law firms don't deal with your average individual or small business. But if we were to start taking work away from them, then we'd know we were doing something right. Usually people don't complain unless you're really killing it.


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Originally published in the December 2012 issue of San Francisco.

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