DocketHero Promises to Help You Outsource Your Law Practice

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DocketHero is an about-to-be-launched app that aims to make it easy to hire appearance counsel, couriers, law clerks, process servers — even ghost bloggers, for some reason. Here is how Carolyn Elefant described it:

[A]n online marketplace that allows lawyers to connect with qualified service providers – the “heroes” – who can help lawyers with a one-time matter or ongoing tasks so that they can “clear their docket.”

When you need something done, you can just pull out your phone, look up service providers in your area, and hire a “hero.” Most of the services on display in the demo screenshots look pretty routine, like appearance counsel, transcriptionists, and legal research and writing. Everyone needs a process server or courier now and then; DocketHero will just make them easier to find and hire.

DocketHero is conceived specifically with lawyers in mind, but it is certainly not the first app or service to offer a way to outsource practice-related tasks. Elefant compares it to TaskRabbit and Elance. oDesk has a category for legal consultants. I also found Hire an Esquire, which is a similar concept to DocketHero, but also meant for non-lawyers. And there is LegalKin, which is very similar, and which Bob Ambrogi just covered. However, DocketHero is the first to combine the simplicity of an app/service like FancyHands with a law practice–specific marketplace.

DocketHero seems like it has great potential to make life easier for solos who keep in mind the “golden rule” of law practice: you are responsible. If you hire a courier to file pleadings, and they don’t get filed, it is your fault. If you hire appearance counsel who flubs a hearing, it is your fault. Outsourcing should always be a calculated risk. I’m assuming DocketHero will allow feedback to help users calculate the risk of using a particular service provider.

Since DocketHero has not yet launched, it is hard to assess anything but the idea, but I am concerned by the developers’ decision to allow marketers to offer their services. The world is overrun by marketing consultants — especially self-made ones. It seems like an even chance that marketing consultants will outnumber more-useful service providers ten to one shortly after DocketHero launches. I asked founder Long Duong about this, but it sounds like he’s willing to take a wait-and-see approach, and make it easy to filter out the marketers if it becomes a problem.

Assuming DocketHero can overcome this problem, it has potential to make life much easier for solos and small-firm lawyers.

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  • static

    So how does DocketHero monetize its service?

    • Docket Hero

      Hi static: Much like the general freelance sites, it will be a flat transaction fee, collected from the total fee paid. We haven’t settled on the percentage as of yet.

  • Docket Hero

    Thanks for the article Sam! We’ll take the issue of marketers under advisement – we definitely don’t want marketers to spam the site.

  • Austin B.

    How are you enrolling service providers/heros pre-launch? Do you have any contact information?

    • Docket Hero

      Hi Austin: Our landing page is collecting emails for signup notification. Those who signup are going to be the first ones invited to seed our beta launch.

  • VeriServe Solutions, Inc.

    When will this be available to sign up?

  • “Marketplaces” seem to be the new, hot thing. Small businesses have sites like UpCounsel to find lawyers (who are, after all, vendors of professional services); lawyers have sites like Hire an Esquire, FreelanceLaw, Docket Hero and LegalKin to find service providers.

    I’m an established freelancer: I have focused my practice exclusively on performing legal research and writing for other lawyers since 1996. I’ve had a website for at least 12 years. Many other established freelancers (including legal research and writing providers and court coverage [“per diem”] attorneys) also have their own websites.

    Although I registered with both FreelanceLaw and Hire an Esquire when those services launched, I have not received a single inquiry from a potential client from either service. While that may be because I’m over-qualified, I suspect it has more to do with the number of hiring attorneys using those sites. And, though I’ll register for Docket Hero and LegalKin (after all, I have nothing to lose), I suspect that the vast majority of my clients will continue to come from my other marketing channels.

    In my view, freelance legal marketplace sites will primarily serve, on one hand, providers who are new to the business and those who offer freelance services (such as court coverage) on an irregular basis and, on the other hand, lawyers who are looking to hire those types of providers. Lawyers who want to hire experienced providers with established reputations in their fields can easily find those providers by asking their colleagues for recommendations and/or searching on Google.

    • Yeah, just because marketplaces work great for babysitters and random website tasks doesn’t mean lawyers are going to use them.

      • Docket Hero

        You are both absolutely right – lawyers may not care at the end of the day. To that end, I hope you’re both wrong ;)

        Lisa, we’ve spent time on the same listservs before and you were one of the first people I thought of during a discussion with my developer about promoting experienced heroes.

        I should also mention that our slant on this marketplace is that we are promoting the heroes, rather than trying to sell “hiring” lawyers on the idea. Perhaps the posts by heroes will inspire lawyers to start delegating more tasks that they wouldn’t normally want to orchestrate (locating someone, negotiating a fee, executing).

    • @LisaSolomonEsq:disqus, may I ask what market (location and focus) you are in?

      • Andy, if you’re with HAE, couldn’t you just view that information in my profile?

        In any event, I do legal research and writing for other lawyers as a freelance attorney. I work with lawyers nationwide in all practice areas.

        • > Andy, if you’re with HAE, couldn’t you just view that information in my profile?

          I could, but then I’d miss the opportunity to talk to you about it. : )

          > I work with lawyers nationwide in all practice areas.

          I was curious because of two reasons: 1. We have certain cities with more active clients, and 2. Those clients often request that the posts be targeted at people who are local.

          Beyond that, we also do our best to target our notifications to avoid becoming email noise. Perhaps we should provide functionality to allow users to select additional markets they’d be interested in.

          From your perspective, are we missing any functionality that would help professionals similar to you?

          • Because a great deal of legal work can (from both a practical and ethics standpoint) be done remotely, it would be helpful to allow lawyers to indicate that they are available to work nationwide.

            • I’ll add a feature request for that very thing, and I’ll let you know when we’ve completed it.