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Mike: Hey everyone, I’m Mike Sullivan. This is MO.com. Joining me today is Alana Cappello and Carly Johansson. They are sisters and co-founders of LegalPlayground.com. Legal Playground, in their words, is designed to bring the legal community into the 21st century. Ladies, thanks for joining me today. Can you tell me a little bit about yourselves?
Alana: My name is Alana Cappello. I have a degree from the University of Florida, for undergraduate, as well as law school. I am currently a practicing attorney, as well as one of the founders of Legal Playground. I’m admitted in Florida and New York, in the New York and Florida Bars.
Carly: I am Carly Cappello Johansson. I am Alana’s sister, also an attorney. I went to the University of Florida, as well, for undergrad, and Emery Law for law school. I am a practicing attorney in Florida and one of the co-founders of Legal Playground.
Mike: Describe for me what Legal Playground is.
Carly: Yes, Legal Playground is a website that helps connect consumers to attorneys. Basically, anyone who is looking for an attorney, and it could be for any area of law, maybe they are going through a divorce or have a child custody issue, maybe it’s a bankruptcy, maybe they have an employment problem, they can go on the site and they can find an attorney in their state who can help them in that practice area. They can either look at attorney profiles or write for an attorney in the online bulletin board.
Mike: What made you feel there was a need for this type of service?
Carly: The reason we developed this site is, because in our practice, we learned that consumers are going to the Internet now for just about everything, including professional services. There was a lack of a site out there to help them really find attorneys and connect with them. If they just Google attorney, or in their jurisdiction, they are just going to find hundreds and hundreds of websites, and they don’t really know how to find that one attorney to help them.
So what we wanted to do was create a site that is so easy for them to go to and to invite them and welcome them. They can look at attorneys and really feel comfortable. We just saw a lack of this in the market, and so we developed it.
Mike: How important has it been to each of you to have the other as a co-founder?
Alana: I think it has been instrumental for us to work together. Like we said, we are sisters. We obviously know each other very well. We work well together. We know how each other thinks. In an operational capacity, we work really great together. Then on the other end, we are also both lawyers. So we know what the legal community is, and we know what the needs are and we know how to provide them to the consumers. It was really our heart to try to use our profession to try to help the consumers in a way because we have been on the other end of the spectrum, so to speak.
Mike: Walk me through the user experience on Legal Playground.
Carly: From the consumer perspective, we will take that one first. The consumer would go the website, and they have basically two options. They can look at the attorney profiles, and they can sort those profiles based upon the state, county, or the specific area of law. Like I was saying earlier, if they want an employment attorney, they can look for that. If they want a patent attorney, they can look at just patent attorneys. They don’t have to go through every single profile. They can really narrow it down and that could help them.
Then once they get to the attorney’s profile, they can see the attorney. There is a whole multimedia section. So, if the attorney has videos up or maybe a podcast, they can look at the videos and podcasts. If there are blogs, they can read the blogs and get a really good feel for the attorney. Then they can obviously contact them through the profile.
The other alternative is the bulletin board. The bulletin board is like a Craigslist. If they want to, they can post their request in this bulletin board, and all the members on the site can see the bulletin board. They can post it anonymously, or they can leave their contact information. But either way, interested attorneys can then contact them through the bulletin board.
From the attorney perspective, what the attorneys can do is, one, they can create the profiles, and it is basically up to the attorney how much or how little they want to do with their profile. We have given them all of the software there. Like I said earlier, they can upload videos, podcasts, any type of audio, documents. Photographs, if they want to show their office or their staff, to invite the consumer to see their office and all of the people working on the case, they can do that. They can blog just about everything on their profile.
With respect to the bulletin board, they have two options. They can view the bulletin board, where consumers are posting, and respond to the consumers. Or there is a section just for attorneys, for attorney-to-attorney referrals. So if an attorney is hypothetically practicing in New York and they have a case where they need to be in California, but they are not admitted in the state of California, what they can do is post a request for local counsel in California to assist them on the case. Attorneys then can go to the bulletin board and develop that networking relationship.
Mike: Tell me about the name Legal Playground. What went into coming up with the name? What were you trying to accomplish with it?
Alana: I think, when we first started, we wanted a name that was inviting. Being that it is a legal site, it tends to come across a little bit stuffy, and we didn’t want that. We wanted it to be more for the consumers to be able feel comfortable going to the site. We wanted something fun and catchy and welcoming. Of course, you have the legal aspect of it, but the playground in the sense they can go on there and get whatever they need with ease. We thought the two names just went well together, and we are hoping it comes across as inviting as we felt it was.
Mike: Thanks very much for your time today.
Alana: Thank you.
Carly: Thank you.
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