As I’ve written in the past, the Y Combinator-incubated startup promises to connect you with a lawyer instantly, usually over the phone. The idea is to help users get legal advice quickly and affordably, and to help lawyers reach new customers, even if they’re on the other side of the state.
Founder and CEO Nikhil Nirmel told me the product has evolved over the last few years, from a marketplace model where users search for lawyers on their own, to a full service model where you talk to a case manager who works for LawDingo, which then finds the right lawyer for you. The lawyer then calls you right away or sets up a time that’s convenient on both sides.
Now Nirmel is betting that the model should work when you’re trying to find other kinds of professionals — specifically doctors, accountants and therapists. In each industry, the company is hiring case managers who are knowledgeable in the field. Those managers will guide you through the process of finding the right professional. As with lawyers, some of that consultation needs to happen in person (so your case manager can help you find someone local), but some of it can be done remotely.
One of the advantages of this model is that LawDingo and the related sites don’t need to build out a huge network of professionals right away — they recruit them as needed.
“It doesn’t make so much sense to sign up all these people across the country when most of them won’t get anything right away,” Nirmel said. “We decided to do the opposite — get demand first and backfill with supply.”
Even for remote consultations, the four ‘Dingo sites still have some geographic restrictions. Lawyers need to be certified to practice law in your state, for example. But Nirmel noted that some professionals are licensed to practice in multiple states — LawDingo et al. will help them do so.
Nirmel is also hoping that this could turn more users into repeat customers. Most people don’t need lawyers all that often, but hey, if you find a lawyer through LawDingo and it’s a good experience, then you may think of DocDingo when you need a doctor.
As part of the launch, the company is changing its pricing model. Instead of charging professionals a monthly subscription, it will charge a fee whenever it generates new business. (When it comes to insurance, Nirmel said the doctors will have to handle all the payments and claims on their own, at least initially.)
Oh, if you’re wondering about the name, Nirmel had this to say: “People often ridicule the name, or comment ‘The dingo ate my baby!’ I maintain it’s a good, memorable name. Besides, if a dingo does eat your baby, you’ll need a doctor, lawyer, psychiatrist and financial planner.”