A new website called Whocanisue.com that matches consumers and attorneys is launching in September with a multimillion-dollar marketing push. It's now opening enrollment for attorneys wishing to participate.
"The name makes it sound nefarious, but it's not," promises Curtis A. Wolfe, a practicing attorney and founder and CEO of Whocanisue.com. "There's a need in online legal marketing for a solution that's not just a directory service."
Screening clients' claims
The site allows users to peruse content about their legal interests and potential claims and take a 5- to 10-question confidential screening "path" that lets them know if they're qualified for a particular claim. As consumers complete their questionnaires, they'll receive up to five ads for attorneys in their local area who bid on those ad placements in real time. The user can then choose an attorney and connect with him or her via instant messaging or phone.
Mr. Wolfe said the ad campaign will get under way in September prior to the launch of the site. The campaign will include broadcast, print, online and outdoor components. The broadcast effort will start off in local markets in major metro areas including New York, Chicago, California, Florida and Texas, with plans eventually to go national. The ads, which poke fun at ambulance-chasing lawyers, will carry the tagline "Browse, Learn and Connect."
Print buys will focus on legal and lifestyle publications, and online ads will appear on websites. "We'll also do some outdoor stuff like wrapped buses and things like that," he said.
Mr. Wolfe said he hopes to have an ad budget of $1 million a month within the first three months. Handling the effort are Anthony Baradat & Associates and online media company mRevolution, also one of the site's backers. A viral campaign, which is still in development, will get under way prior to the launch of the ad effort in September.
Attorneys footing the bill
There's no cost to users and a $1,000 annual network fee per attorney or practice area for 2008. Mr. Wolfe said it's likely that the fee will eventually go up.
Mr. Wolfe said he hopes to have 500 lawyers on board before Sept. 1. In the first few hours of enrollment today, more than 50 lawyers signed on, saying they would be interested in participating, he said, noting that the site offers lawyers a marketing opportunity that other mediums don't.
"Instead of putting an ad in the Yellow Pages and waiting for people to call, they will be able to connect with potential clients in real time," Mr. Wolfe said. "And the people they'll be speaking to have a real need and interest."
The site will generate revenue through membership fees, advertising fees paid by members of the attorney network and premium service charges related to the real-time consumer connection services, which will also be paid for by the advertising attorneys.