LawNearMe.com, a website that helps mobile users quickly find local attorneys when necessary, is finding its deeper side.
The millennial-focused startup, launched last year by Jericho native Samuel Shusterhoff, a graduate of Pennsylvania’s Widener School of Law, has unveiled a significantly beefed-up platform that includes what Shusterhoff calls “the most innovative technology in the industry.”
For users, the basics are still there. Free access to a listing of local attorneys is still LawNearMe.com’s biggest sell and the thing that differentiates the site from larger competitors. Users who whip out their iPhones after a fender bender “will always be able to find an attorney who’s local and can handle whatever kind of case they have,” Shusterhoff noted.
And the 2.0 version offers plenty of upgrades for that crowd, including a larger attorney database – thousands of lawyers have subscribed since the original version went live last year, according to Shusterhoff – and optional user profiles that enable instant messaging and videoconferencing with attorneys.
But it’s on the attorney side that the 2.0 platform, designed by in-house developers, looks to challenge the status quo. In addition to those videoconferencing and instant-messaging options, attorneys can now receive secured credit card payments and schedule meetings directly through LawNearMe.com; they can also post live updates about their practice or firm using a marketing tool that keeps them in front of existing and potential clients.
“In version one, we concentrated on initiating the attorney-client relationship,” Shusterhoff said. “Now we’re taking the next step: helping to maintain that relationship.”
LawNearMe.com 2.0 is designed “to enable law firms to go virtual,” Shusterhoff added, and to let member attorneys “work from anywhere.”
“We keep hearing from attorneys, especially with small firms, that the biggest killer is overhead and the biggest overhead is rent, especially for solo practitioners right out of school,” he said. “We want to enable those lawyers to go virtual – to work without the need of keeping an actual office.”
Attorneys can still sign up for the 1.0-level subscription – a basic listing in the website’s searchable database – or opt for the premium membership, which includes the communications upgrades, payment processing software, scheduling functions, beefed-up marketing opportunities and a customizable dashboard to control it all.
The 1.0 version was “very successful,” Shusterhoff said, and the 18-to-44 age group remains LawNearMe.com’s top user demographic. The company now boasts attorney subscribers in virtually every state, including Alaska and Hawaii.
But with the two subscription tiers now in effect and the new bells and whistles for subscribers and users going live, LawNearMe.com is in full growth mode, with an East Meadow office within trolling distance of Nassau Community College and Hofstra University, where Shusterhoff hopes to find additional talent.
“After months of hard work, our vision has finally launched,” Shusterhoff said. “The legal industry takes a giant step forward in regard to technology, and we plan to keep moving forward.”