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.