Robert Grant Niznik, a 21 year old law student from the New York Law School, launched a new website which is like an e-bay for lawyers. Shpoonkle is a website in which lawyers and those that seek them can register. The service is free for now, but Niznik said that eventually attorneys maybe charged membership fees in the future. The website looks to solve two common problems in America. The first the fact the heavily indebted law students struggle to find work after graduating. The second is that many people struggle to afford legal advise in America. The platform will help address both of these issues at the same time. Although the website is still in need of some fine tuning, it should be sorted before its official launch.
Shpoonkle is designed to create a marketplace where legal fees will fall to rates well below the $284 per hour national average calculated by Lawyers.com, a division of Martindale-Hubble. "Paying nearly $300 an hour for a lawyer is beyond the reach of most people in need of legal assistance," said Niznik. "Shpoonkle will drive down legal costs because people can select the lowest bid submitted by our member lawyers."
One week before its official launch date, the site generated so much interest in legal blogs and an article in the ABA Journal that over 300 lawyers and scores of prospective clients have already registered to exchange services, Niznik said.
Shpoonkle works by having lawyers and law firms place bids on requests for legal work posted by potential clients. In standard auctions people bid against one another, forcing prices up so that the highest bid wins. But in reverse auctions, prices are driven down by individuals bidding to win at the lowest price. For example, a person needing a legal document, such as a contract or a will, can fill out an online questionnaire and post it on Shpoonkle.com. Interested lawyers then place bids by specifying the lowest fee they would charge for that service.
The site is not without it’s critics. Some in the legal community says it cheapens the profession.
Niznik says critics are usually “wealthy lawyers who don’t need us. There are plenty who find the platform valuable.”