myBarrister: Chris Bean
The founder of the first search engine for barristers talks about innovating in the legal profession
Name: Chris Bean
Staff numbers: 4
Date launched: 10/04/2013
Tell us what your business does:
On thisismybarrister.com we help individuals and businesses of all sizes find a barrister to resolve their legal problems. People can search for a barrister, view their profiles and get in touch – all within minutes.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
Having worked in the legal industry we would regularly see people whose lives and businesses have been disrupted by legal issues, but who didn’t know where to get good value and rapid help at the right cost. ‘Direct Access’ to a barrister has been available since 2004, but surprisingly few people know about the services they can provide. We wanted to resolve this.
How did you know there was a market for it?
Getting a barrister involved as soon as a legal issue arises, whether it is over-employment, contracts, property, intellectual property or regulation, is quicker and less expensive than going via a solicitor first, ultimately saving you time and money down the line. Our easy search tool puts people in touch with the right legal specialist for their issue. No other site in the UK does this.
What were you doing before starting up?
Our team members have run barristers’ chambers and advised global law firms on strategy and communications.
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
Yes, we’re all highly experienced businesspeople and have run many businesses before this. Running businesses is what we do.
How did you raise the money?
We have an investor with a long track record of investment in new internet start-ups, both in the UK and the US.
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
Signing-up barristers has been a long process, but as a result we’ve built really strong relationships with them. Getting the search engine exactly right also took a while, but we’re there now. The next challenge is marketing the business to the UK – we’ve only just started this, but are already generating a good flow of work and our barristers are helping people resolve their legal issues.
Describe your business model and how you make money:
We are a subscription-based business; barristers pay an annual subscription to be on myBarrister. As a result the clients pay nothing and there are no commissions or percentages taken, so it’s completely free to use with no hidden costs.
What was your first big breakthrough?
Signing-up some of the UK’s leading barristers and QCs. Their presence on the site is testament to how important an initiative this is and we couldn’t be more pleased with the number and quality of barristers we’ve got on board so far – and we’re only a few weeks in!
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
Keep it simple; focus on the things that will get you to the next stage and don’t get distracted by the future, or you may never get there. Just as important is to ‘think different’; try and see setbacks as opportunities.
Where do you want to be in five years’ time?
We want to be one of the first places people and businesses come to when they need to resolve a legal issue quickly and cost-effectively.