Well, well well…the tables may be turning. Not a 90 degree turn, but maybe 1 or 2 degrees, anyway. A new website called Shpoonkle has launched today that matches lawyers with clients. The catch, and the thing that lawyers will least want to hear, is that Shpoonkle provides clients with a way to conduct reverse auctions for lawyer’s services.
Reverse auctions invite a supplier (lawyers in this case) to bid for a piece of work from a potential customer. Those in the procurement world will be familiar with the success (when run properly in the right markets) of reverse auctions in driving down prices for generic goods or services.
At first I was a bit skeptical, but I actually think this could work. The kinds of jobs on which the site will focus seem to be the generic kind. Corporate lawyers and boutique law firms can rest easy that they will still pull in their huge salaries/profits, because when it comes to the law, people that can pay, will pay for the best when their neck is on the line.
This site provides the classic economic benefit of reducing transaction costs. A working person that wants to fight a large traffic fine or have a contract looked over would have to go through the process of contacting a number of lawyers, who would then artificially jack up the price based on the knowledge that others will do the same and eventually the client will get tired of looking around and negotiating. Now, all that nonsense will be avoided.
Plus, on the other side, all the out-of-work lawyers (wipe away that tear) will have to spend less time looking for clients. The service is about as generic as services come…just need someone who muddled their way through law school to re-hash the same arguments that have been made in traffic court since the the days of Socrates (e.g. A system of morality – or traffic laws – which is based on relative emotional values is a mere illusion, a thoroughly vulgar conception which has nothing sound in it and nothing true.)
The restoring dignity to the law blog has a good take on this as well. Check it out here.