Shpoonkle

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Shpoonkle.com (no longer operational) was an interactive reverse auction web site that provides a marketplace where lawyers and potential clients can connect. Shpoonkle aimed to help its users find more affordable legal assistance. It also aimed to provide a venue where lawyers can find casework. Shpoonkle has shut down and the website is no longer operational.

History[edit]

Shpoonkle was founded by Robert Grant Niznik, a 21 year-old third year student at New York Law School. Recent controversy and lawsuits between law school graduates and their schools support the difficulties many law school graduates are experiencing. Many young lawyers, struggling to repay student loans, could benefit from an online legal marketplace. In several interviews Niznik has referred to the decline in American legal jobs, citing a study by the Northwestern University Law School that found that since 2008 over 15,000 attorney and legal-staff jobs have been eliminated[1] and that according to Forrester Research, about 50,000 American legal jobs will be outsourced overseas by 2015.[2]

Controversy[edit]

Even before Shpoonkle was officially launched, it became the subject of controversy within the legal community. Scott Greenfield, a noted New York criminal defense lawyer, wrote about Shpoonkle in his blog, Simple Justice: "Any lawyer who signs up for this service should be immediately disbarred, then tarred and feathered, then publicly humiliated."[3] Susan Cartier Liebel, in her blog Solo Practice University, wrote: "Here you have a race to the bottom as lawyers bid against one another to pay the lowest fee to anonymous clients with legal problems."[4] And lawyer Charles Cooper wrote in his blog, NonTradLaw: "Why the ridiculous name? Is the service provided not demeaning enough to lawyers already without adding to their shame?"[5] A less critical discussion of Shpoonkle in The Wall Street Journal called it an "eBay for lawyers"[6] and the ABA Journal called Shpoonkle "a playfully named Web site that allows attorneys and law firms to bid on legal requests submitted by clients."[7]

Reception[edit]

In June 2011, the ABA Journal again wrote about Shpoonkle stating that "Shpoonkle may have a funny-sounding name, but it is no joke."[8] NBC Miami featured a story on Shpoonkle and how it is saving money for consumers with free services.[9]

In July 2011, the The Docket The Denver Bar Association wrote Change isn’t always bad, my friends … even with a name like Shpoonkle."[10]

There is a shift in the legal profession and virtual practices are becoming a reality. As Hank Peters of Bitter Lawyer says: "BigLaw, meet Shpoonkle."[11] Gregory Karp wrote in the Chicago Tribune that "technology is a huge help for consumers to spend money smarter."[12] In August 2011, the Wall Street Journal stated that Shpoonkle uses a competitive bidding model to match customers with attorneys and smaller law firms. The average hourly fees its clients pay are a third of the national average, which hovers around $280 an hour."[13]

Accolades[edit]

As a start up, the acceptance and accolades of the consumer, media, and peers is critical for success. Inc.com states "This unusual site helps clients connect with attorneys, and for strapped small businesses it’s a godsend. Essentially, you post a “case” at the site and wait for attorneys to bid. For example, if you need to collect a debt from a customer, you can hire an attorney who will likely charge a percentage fee on the collection. The site streamlines the process: You can send private messages to top lawyers who can contact you, or wait to see who has the best offer for your particular case."[14]

Venturebeat.com wrote of Shpoonkle in October 2011, "We thought his start up idea was brilliant — an eBay just for legal services. People who need legal representation but who don’t have time to call around for rates, or who might not be able to afford a lawyer in other circumstances, can post their needs and get bids. Attorneys then have to compete for a piece of the action." [15]

In December 2011, Shpoonkle was selected by MSNBC Your Business as "Web site of the Week." [16]

Shpoonkle Canada[edit]

Shpoonkle launched its services in Canada in the early Fall of 2011. Zoomer Radio AM740 stated "Shpoonkle is an option to deal with the cost of legal advice and legal services, which can be too expensive for most people." The Toronto Star wrote that the "Shpoonkle Canada version is timely. Three weeks ago, the Governor General and the chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada separately said that legal fees are getting out of hand. Working-class or middle-class people of no great means who have legal needs … feel they cannot take a step of finding a lawyer or launching a lawsuit,” Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin told the Canadian Bar Association’s annual conference in Halifax."[17]

Shpoonkle Legal Job Stop[edit]

In November 2011, Shpoonkle introduced a new feature called the Legal Job Stop. "The new tool called Legal Job Stop is focused on creating an "e-culture" to the legal recruitment and interview process," as reported by; VatorNews Their November article discusses how[18]

From the unique name to the advocacy based services BetaBeat wrote: Besides having the most amazingly made-up name we have seen in a while, Shpoonkle is an interesting addition to the new crop of start-ups focused on creating a peer to peer online marketplace."

The Legal Job Stop a feature launched on Shpoonkle in December 2011, "is also looking to match supply and demand, but with a focus on the growing number of unemployed law school graduates."[19] In December 2012,

Shpoonkle Debate[edit]

Joe McKendrick wrote about Shpoonkle "Legal profession, meet the forces of disruption and creative destruction," in his recent article in Smart Planet.[20] The Chronicle of Higher Education's Katherine Mangan also wrote of Shpoonkle and the reaction by users and critics in December 2011 in her article "New Lawyers Hang a Shingle on Shpoonkle, to Some Colleagues' Chagrin." [21] George Leef's article in the National Review Online sums up the situation and the debate over Shpoonkle. " The U.S. has lots and lots of un-and under-employed lawyers. The U.S. also has lots of people who have legal problems that they can’t afford to spend a lot of money on."[22] Leef notes that new forms of competition such as Shpoonkle are "usually denounced by those already doing well in the approved forms."

References[edit]

  1. ^ David Segal (January 8, 2011). "Is Law School a Losing Game?". The New York Times. Retrieved June 19, 2011. 
  2. ^ Cynthia Cotts and Liane Kufchock (August 21, 2007). "U.S. firms outsource legal services to India". The New York Times. Retrieved June 19, 2011. 
  3. ^ Scott H. Greenfield (March 9, 2011). "Shpoonkle By Any Other Name". Simple Justice, a New York Criminal Defense Blog. Retrieved June 19, 2011. 
  4. ^ Susan Cartier Liebel (March 7, 2011). "The Shpoonkle-ization of a Legal Profession". Solo Practice University Blog. Retrieved June 19, 2011. 
  5. ^ "Thoughts On Shpoonkle". NonTradLaw. March 24, 2011. Retrieved June 19, 2011. 
  6. ^ Vanessa O'Connell (March 23, 2011). "Building eBay for Lawyers; Attorneys Are Skeptical of Internet Start-Up That Will Run Auctions for Clients". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved June 18, 2011. 
  7. ^ "As Law Student Readies Reverse Auction Site, Law Bloggers React to 'eBay' of Lawyering". ABA Journal. Mar 14, 2011. Retrieved June 19, 2011. 
  8. ^ Laala Al Jaber (June 1, 2011). "More Than a Quirky Name, Shpoonkle Aims to Get Legal Reverse-Auction Model Right". ABA Journal. Retrieved June 19, 2011. 
  9. ^ Spend Smart with Shpoonkle; http://en.sevenload.com/videos/jnjBFKD-Spend-Smart-with-Shpoonkle-NBC-Miami
  10. ^ Nicole M. Mundt (July 1, 2011). "Shpoonkle: Justice for Legal Professionals?". The Docket. Retrieved July 1, 2011. 
  11. ^ Why BigLaw Associates Should Listen to Me;http://www.bitterlawyer.com/biglaw-associates-advice/
  12. ^ New sites, apps that might be worth consuming;http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-06-03/features/sc-cons-0602-karpspend-20110603_1_apps-coupon-industry-upromise
  13. ^ Pricing Tactic Spooks Lawyers,Companies Use of Reverse Auctions to Negotiate Legal Services Is Accelerating;http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111904292504576482243557793536.html
  14. ^ 10 New Web Tools to Make Life Easier, Because sometimes it's better to let someone else do the work for you.;http://www.inc.com/john-brandon/10-web-tools-for-entrepreneurs.html
  15. ^ Stupid name, great idea: Shpoonkle is an auction site for legal services;http://venturebeat.com/2011/10/06/shpoonkle/
  16. ^ MSNBC Your Business;http://www.openforum.com/yourbusinesstv
  17. ^ On this site, justice can go to the lowest bidder ; http://www.thestar.com/business/article/1050026--on-this-site-justice-can-go-to-the-lowest-bidder?bn=1
  18. ^ "Shpoonkle expands legal platform to job searches The reverse-auction legal website adds recruitment tool for the competitive job market." http://vator.tv/news/2011-11-28-shpoonkle-expands-legal-platform-to-job-searches
  19. ^ Meet Shpoonkle, The Online Marketplace for Unemployed Lawyers;http://www.betabeat.com/2011/12/05/meet-shpoonkle-the-online-marketplace-for-unemployed-lawyers/
  20. ^ eBay of legal services: clients can seek lawyers’ lowest bids;http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/business-brains/ebay-of-legal-services-clients-can-seek-lawyers-lowest-bids/20485
  21. ^ New Lawyers Hang a Shingle on Shpoonkle, to Some Colleagues' Chagrin;http://chronicle.com/article/Recent-Law-Graduates-Offer/130060/
  22. ^ Legal Establishment Up in Arms Over Shpoonkle;http://www.nationalreview.com/phi-beta-cons/286689/legal-establishment-arms-over-shpoonkle-george-leef