My first thought when I met Sienna Babb last year was “is she crazy?”
Followed quickly by “why didn’t I think of this?”
Sienna is the founder of WMN Legal, a women-built online platform that matches women who need legal help with carefully vetted women attorneys. Like all good startups the idea came to her because she didn’t have an easy time finding an attorney and she saw a need to be filled. She asked me to become an advisor. I said yes with a bit of skepticism I’ll admit. Over the last year, though, I’ve watched in amazement as Sienna has turned that idea into a platform. There is so much about WMN Legal that makes so much sense in this very moment in time that I feel compelled to share this inspired resource with my network. Our editor Karen Strauss sat down with Sienna Babb to learn more.
What is WMN Legal?
WMN (pronounced women) was created to help busy professional women find and connect with experienced, trusted attorneys who will work with them on an hourly basis, instead of demanding a costly upfront retainer. By the time you realize you need a lawyer, you’re usually quite anxious about whatever the issue is. The process of finding an attorney shouldn’t add to the stress. We take the risk and uncertainty out of the process by matching our users with experienced, trusted attorneys (like Juliet!).
What was the impetus to create WMN Legal?
Women need legal resources at least as often, and these days probably more, than men. A couple of years ago I found myself in an employment “situation” and even though some of my relatives are attorneys, I was frustrated and felt alone and hopeless. There was a lot of “I know someone who knows someone who knows someone.” I remember thinking “I am so screwed.” The top referral wanted a $10,000 retainer for work that ended up costing me a total of $2,000. And I found my attorney, a true miracle worker, via the aesthetician who waxes our eyebrows!
We started working on the platform before #metoo, but the movement has put into stark relief why a resource like WMN Legal is needed. But it’s not only that women face discrimination and unfair treatment at work, women are starting new businesses at twice the rate of men and women are becoming the primary breadwinners for our families.
How is it going so far?
We launched in October 2017 and the response has been phenomenal. The network is the largest in California but New York, Atlanta, Chicago, Florida and Phoenix are catching up. We’re learning that for women who are very successful in their careers and have the means to retain a large firm, they are delighted to find out they don’t have to because they can find the same expertise in our network. And for all women, regardless of what stage of life they are in, and regardless of their bank account, there’s something so reassuring knowing that someone has your back, being able to say, “Let me call my lawyer and ask her.” This change of mindset is radical.
What are the areas of biggest need?
So far, we’re seeing a need for legal help with starting a business, employment agreements (for both employees and employers), privacy policies, fair treatment, intellectual property, family law, estate planning, etc.
How does WMN Legal work?
It is free for those looking for an attorney to access the network. WMN Legal is not a law firm or a lawyer referral service and provides no legal services. All financial arrangements are between the client and the attorney. We are a platform helping individuals connect with lawyers of their choosing within our network and provide a tool to facilitate an introduction. So far, most of the engagements are for about five hours of work.
Attorney membership is on an invite-only basis. It is a closed network that you must be invited to join and then we deploy a rigorous vetting process. We do not get involved in the attorney-client transaction. Attorneys pay a flat fee to be included in the network. We have several levels of membership. For example, a premium membership provides attorneys with an opportunity to connect with counterparts in her areas of focus and in her geographic region. These are solo practitioners who appreciate the importance of sharing their own knowledge and benefiting from the experiences of others.
Sienna, thank you!
For more information about WMN Legal, visit www.wmnlegal.com.