It’s been an axiom of mine for a long time: everybody wants justice, but you’ve have to have the money to buy it. And for bootstrapping startups and microISVs, lawyering up even when you desperately need to has been too damn expensive.
Legal River, a new Washington D.C based startup is standing that on its head. Instead of a sellers market based on relying on recommendations of friends or the local bar association, Legal River has created a buyers market. At Legal River you anonymously post your requirements for free and within a business day bids by attorneys with their experience, price (fixed or hourly), and Legal River references start arriving. No more paying five grand for ten minutes with a partner while your file actually ends up on some paralegal’s desk.
The attorneys who Legal River vets and change per bid tend to be attorneys who have spun off their own practices after years of toiling in large legal firms and use and understand technology:  You’ll can get the key legal advice you need, not a suit filling in the same forms you could figure out.
Whether it’s drafting a partnership agreement that won’t have you at each other’s throats, forming your business or protecting your intellectual property, Legal River lets you get what you need at a reasonable price.
Four other things you should know about Legal River:

  • They offer free Privacy Policy and Terms of Service generators, vetted by the law firm of General Counsel P.C.
  • They’ve launched an answerboard like Stack Overflow or just for business owners (including startups and microISVs) with U.S. law questions. While the attorneys answering questions there can’t dispense free legal advise, that can give you accurate, timely and experienced advice about the law, and they’ve vetted as real live attorneys by Legal River.
  • In conjuntion with General Counsel P.C., Legal River and yours truly there’s a contest at this week: the Startup or MicroISV who gets the most votes for their question gets one full hour of legal services from General Counsel P.C. and a full year subscription to More details here.
  • There will be more info up at this week’s Startup Success Podcast as we interview Ben Hatten, founder of Legal River. That should be available Wednesday.

Here’s a post in the New York Times about how Legal River works.
Legal River is only for Business legal matters, and only works with U.S. based attorneys, although since they soft-launched in October have helped several overseas companies find local representation.
Not sure if you need a lawyer? Do any of these practice catigories ring a bell with you?

  • Business Formation
  • Contracts
  • Mergers and Acquisitions
  • Employment
  • Real Estate
  • Intellectual Property
  • Government Contracting
  • Internet / E-Commerce
  • Corporate Tax
  • Bankruptcy
  • Arbitration / Mediation
  • Regulatory Compliance


  1. Bob – would be great if you can ask Ben in the interview the following:
    1. How did they initially contact and attract the lawyers to sign up for their service? (In detail)
    2. With all the other legal directories out there, how did they get the attention of lawyers and what was the big factor in winning them over?
    3. How are they going to make money?
    4. The teams background and experience with startups.
    Look forward to the podcast!

  2. Bob Walsh Reply

    Mike – we covered those points and more! (nice to know we’ve asked the questions our readers/listeners what to know about).

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