Platform Economy in Legal Profession: An Empirical Study of Online Legal Service Providers in China
UCLA Pacific Basin law journal
Platform economy breaks into the legal profession by pooling lawyers with different specializations into a simple user-friendly platform, consolidating the lower-tier supply side of the legal market and generating an economy of scale. This paper is the very first empirical piece looking into China's online legal service portals. It shows that the intermediary functions of the portals as the "matchmaker" between the supply and the demand side are often comingled with certain substantive legal
... vices that cannot be easily unbundled from each other. Given the grand information asymmetry in legal service provision and the potential importance users may attach to the portals' recommendations, the quality of such intermediation and matchmaking still leaves much to be desired. However, the portals do help to improve the access to justice in China by virtue of offering an extra channel for acquiring and comparing potentially useful information, which is made available at a much lower cost than visiting a physical law firm. Thus, the regulators of China's legal profession should strive to improve the quality of, rather than block up the source of the information. To that end, this paper proposes, based on the inspiration of the ABS regime, an alternative license for these online legal service providers, which imposes minimal regulation and leaves room for new innovative business structures to evolve.