Originally, I intended to simply file an approving comment on Simple Justice blogger Scott Greenfield’s cautionary expose about Law Guru, but Scott’s post is so important, that it demands additional circulation. Scott reports on a new initiative by Law Guru.com to compensate lawyers for answers that they provide in response to questions posed by the public at the site. Prior to the for-fee proposal, Law Guru invited questions from readers which lawyers answered gratis. But after several years (Guru’s been around since the late ’90s), I noticed that most of the responses had devolved into some version of “I can’t comment on your case without specific facts. Call me for a consult.”
To allay concerns that a pay-for-answer system might result in an unethical fee splitting arrangement, Law Guru, in consultation with “top ethics experts: proposed that:
now the users submitting paid questions and the answering attorney will be entering into a limited representation agreement which will create an attorney-client relationship which is limited in both scope (only involves the answer to the question) and duration (ends when the answer is delivered to and accepted by the user). Although a recent phenomenon, these types of agreements (also known as unbundled services) are gaining popularity and believed to be an integral part of the future of legal representation.