Alumnus Develops Website to Connect Attorneys with Clients
Michael Chasin’s expertise intersects law and business, so it’s no surprise he founded a business based on the law.
Prior to launching a website dedicated to helping consumers connect with attorneys, Chasin ’13 was a JD/MBA student and an entrepreneur looking for a way to apply his unique expertise. He and Loyola classmate Aaron George collaborated to develop the idea for LawKick. Billed as “the easiest way to find an attorney,” the service asks users to fill out a brief questionnaire to determine their needs, then serves up price quotes along with attorney comparisons.
Chasin and his partner developed the idea after seeing a gap in the legal marketplace. “We started brainstorming and landed on something where we were like, ‘Wow, I think we actually have something with this,’” he said. “It was something that really didn’t exist. We did market research, and everyone we talked to about the idea said it was actually an amazing idea.”
LawKick screens its attorneys and requires that they disclose whether or not they maintain malpractice insurance. “Our goal is to provide transparency to the client,” Chasin said. During the vetting process, LawKick examines attorneys’ education, work history and current practice status. “That’s the sort of thing you wouldn’t necessarily know unless you walked into their office or asked for their resume.”
So far, more than 325 attorneys have joined the LawKick roster. While at startup most of the attorneys were from Los Angeles, the site is increasing its geographic spread and now has attorneys from the all over the United States. LawKick aims to boost its roster to 750 attorneys by year’s end.
Client feedback is an important component of LawKick, and Chasin and his crew continually monitor the performance reviews of their attorneys via a mechanism built into the app and have removed lawyers who have not held high standards of conduct. “While we are an open marketplace, we do screen all lawyers to check for past client issues and malpractice claims,” he said. “We take this process very seriously. While our job is not to vet lawyers to see who is good and who is bad at practicing law, we want to give our users as much information as possible to make an informed decision of who to hire.”
Relying on his law degree in every step of forming LawKick, Chasin has drawn regularly on his Loyola experience. “Literally every facet is enhanced by my law degree -- everything from employees to contracts to incorporating to vetting the attorneys to selling the attorneys,” Chasin said. “When we incorporated, there were a bunch of issues our attorney might not have thought of. Having that foresight for certain terms and conditions that need to be implemented has been beneficial.”
Early on, Loyola professors provided him with some of his most critical guidance: how to approach an attorney-finding service in accordance with California Rules of Professional Conduct. Professor Gary Williams, who teaches Ethical Lawyering and worked with Chasin when he participated in the Young Lawyers program, helped Chasin work through payment-related issues. And Chasin draws frequently on what he learned in both his JD and MBA courses.
“I have the JD/MBA in my title in my signature block, and I get better responses than I used to. People respect that. For investors, it’s been unbelievable. They walk in and think, ‘A 25-year-old with a JD/MBA who’s running his own company? He knows his stuff; I’ll invest in him,’” Chasin said. “I’m not just a lawyer, I’m a guy who understands the business side of things. So I get a little bit more clout in that area.”
In order to market his new venture, Chasin has become the public face of LawKick. He regularly publishes blog posts and other materials on innovation in the legal-services industry. In the recent post “8 Tips to Keep Your Clients Satisfied and Coming Back,” Chasin discusses tips for attorney marketing. In another post, “Why a Certain Species of Lawyer is Going Extinct,” he encourages lawyers to embrace technological advances in their practices. He also conducts seminars on starting a business and attends startup events to push his product. He just recently presented LawKick in front of a panel of judges and over 1000 people at a recent TechCrunch Event here in Los Angeles
While working to get LawKick off the ground he pays himself a small salary and supplements his income by driving for Uber, the app-based ride-sharing service. That’s no surprise given Chasin’s admiration for Internet success stories like Airbnb.com, the online vacation rental service. “There are so many stories of these people who have so much going for them who leverage their entire lives,” said Chasin. “People see the success stories later and don’t realize how hard people have to work in the meantime.” While driving for Uber, Chasin actually persuaded a few passengers to invest more than $100,000 into LawKick.