Jackson v. LegalMatch.comAnnotate this Case
The website, www.legalmatch.com, connects individuals to lawyers, based on an intake form and client specifications. LegalMatch represents that it “does not screen or vouch for any of its users” and does “not imply an endorsement of any subscribing attorney or service …. LegalMatch does not screen individual cases or otherwise channel potential clients to select attorneys.” Only subscribing lawyers associated with the location and category selected by the potential client can affirmatively reach out to the individual. Lawyers and clients negotiate the parameters of their attorney-client relationship. The number of lawyers in a geographic location and category of legal expertise is limited by an algorithm that maintains LegalMatch’s profitability by balancing the number of clients and lawyers available. Potential clients use the site for free. LegalMatch receives no fee for the formation of an attorney-client relationship. When LegalMatch sued attorney Jackson to recover unpaid subscription fees, Jackson argued that LegalMatch was an uncertified lawyer referral service, in violation of Business and Professions Code section 6155. The trial court rejected Jackson’s argument. The court of appeal reversed. The act of referring is complete when LegalMatch routes a potential client to attorneys who match the geographic location and area of practice—regardless of whether LegalMatch exercises legal judgment on an individual’s issue before communicating that information to lawyers on its panel.