As China continues to integrate into the ruled-based global economy, domestic demand for legal profession has been growing apace among all Chinese, not just multinational corporations. Back in 2010 Forbes already observed “the development of domestic companies that have an increasing self-interest in a stable and consistent system of contract, intellectual property, tax and securities law (and its enforcement).”
The vast majority of the legal industry in China is still practicing law in the old-fashioned way and overcharging customers. Individuals and small-medium enterprises, however, can’t afford services of big law firms. They want more for less. Lvgou (“green dog”) then came into being, providing affordable and convenient access to legal services through an e-commerce platform akin to T-mall.
How does it work? Customers need to simply fill out their basic information and Lvgou will connect them with the right attorneys. By eliminating the middle men, Lvgou does three things: It lowers costs for customers, supposedly 10-20% lower than the market price. It brings more businesses to lawyers – Lvgou claims more than 10 thousand users within six months since it launched (equivalent to three years’ businesses at China’s big law firms) and has some 60 thousand active users on the website every day. Furthermore, its standardized service “pipeline” saves time for both customers and lawyers.
Lvgou’s precursor is US-based Legalzoom. The two are similar in that they both aim to be the alternative to traditional law firms. Unlike Legalzoom, Lvgou doesn’t have its own team of legal experts but instead partners with law firms and attorneys on a contract basis. This forces contracted lawyers to compete on price and quality. Lvgou further ensures quality of service by creating a level-based compensation system and letting customers to rate the services. What’s also noticeable is its use of catchy, down-to-earth expressions to overcome the often absurd legal terms. For example, it uses “You start a company. I take care of the costs” to advertise their free registered agent service. Instead of “divorce services” it uses “quick divorce”, and for loan repayment demand services it uses “can you pay me back.”
Launched in June, 2012, Lvgou raised 11.5 million RMB by August 2013. Its investors include one of China’s foremost angel investors Xu Xiaoping.