Have you ever needed legal advice and turned in frustration to the Yellow Pages only to find line after line of attorney listings? Or have you called the attorney referral service that most local bar associations offer and received only a name and a telephone number?
Michael A. Vlies, president of Lawyer Data Inc. in Irving, says that his free service to consumers will solve that problem. He offers a computerized list of at least 10 area attorneys who fit a legal and geographic profile determined by each customer’s needs.
Vlies hit upon the idea while working as a law clerk. As he interviewed potential clients, he realized they knew nothing about the lawyer who would take over their legal problems.
To be listed with Lawyer Data, attorneys pay a yearly fee of at least $1,000 and must pro”vide standardized résumés de-scribing their legal background and areas of specialization. All of the data is stored in a computer so that when customers request legal advice, they receive a list of attorneys selected especially for their needs.
Then, it’s up to the consumers to interview the attorneys and decide which one (if any) they want to hire. Vlies says that he’s hoping to serve consumers between the ages of 25 and 49 in the middle- to upper-middle income ranges, as well as small-business owners.
Vlies says that it’s been rather difficult selling his idea to attorneys because many are reluctant to advertise their services. He says that the attorneys either think that advertising is tantamount to boasting or that it’s a sign that their business isn’t going very well.
But Vlies says he believes that attorneys have an obligation to advertise their services. His message to consumers is: “Make an intelligent choice. We have the tool to do it, and it’s free.”