Y Combinator-incubated legal startup Lawdingo is announcing that it has raised another $690,000 in funding.
The company’s goal is to make it more convenient and affordable for users to connect with a lawyer (in contrast to a service like LegalZoom, which offers legal forms rather than actual consultation with an attorney). Users can search the site and browse profiles based on a lawyer’s location and expertise, then schedule an appointment or talk to them right then.
Founder and CEO Nikhil Nirmel said one of the more popular features, which was added since I last wrote about the company, is the ability to “get a call now” — Lawdingo can instantly connect users with a relevant lawyer by phone. Lawyers provide Lawdingo with their availability, so when a request comes in, the system reaches out to the ones who are available and have relevant expertise until it finds one who’s free to talk.
Nirmel added that this is an efficient way for lawyers to find new clients. They’re available for these conversations because lawyers “don’t operate as much on a strict appointment schedule … Unless they’re in court, they can still take client calls.”
The business model has also been tweaked, with Lawdingo abandoning a plan where lawyers bid to promote their listings. The company has since gone back to the flat subscription fee that it started out with.
Lawdingo now has lawyers in every state, with the biggest concentration in California, New York, and Massachusetts (Nirmel said there are more than 200 lawyers listed in each of those states). To address the challenge of managing supply and demand in different categories, he said his team built a feature that will automatically spend more money in targeted advertising when the site needs to attract more clients in a given area.
Speaking of advertising, Lawdingo also produced the tongue-in-cheek marketing video that I’ve embedded below. Nirmel said his aim is to “lighten up the legal industry,” which he said “takes itself too seriously — they’re a service provider like everyone else.”
Nirmal participated in the Silicon Valley-based Y Combinator program earlier this year but has since moved to New York. Lawdingo’s 15-person team remains distributed in multiple locations, with Nirmal using tools like GitHub and Skype to manage everyone. When pressed on whether this is actually an effective way to run a company, he replied, “Truthfully, I don’t know how large it can scale, but for now, I think it works well.”
The new funding comes from angel investors (and funds run by angel investors) including Nathaniel Stevens, Kartik Hosanagar, Gene Alston, Altair Capital, Atsany Captial, and Andrew Moroz. It brings Lawdingo’s total funding to $850,000.
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