Legal technology provider Mighty says it is facing backlash from personal injury lawyers after launching a plan to provide low-cost legal representation.
The firm, which helps personal injury lawyers interface with medical providers and other lien holders, has formed a law firm affiliate that represents plaintiffs in personal injury cases in Connecticut, Georgia and Texas.
However, some lawyers have taken to social media to heap criticism on Mighty’s new venture, particularly in Georgia. The level of vitriol could be seen as a reflection of Mighty’s unflattering depiction of the personal injury bar, and of the cutthroat competition between lawyers in that sector.
Mighty says on its website that its fees are 10% lower than the industry standard, and it gives clients a 10% rebate on medical costs.
Mighty also cites its code of conduct, which bars settlement quotas for lawyers, and says its lawyers and staff may not accept holiday presents, dinners or tickets to sports events from medical providers to which firm clients are referred.
What’s more, Mighty can assist clients with litigation funding, arranging for vehicle repairs after a car crash, and referring a client to counseling for trauma related to their injury.
Mighty’s marketing campaign labels its competitors “billboard attorneys” who overcharge their clients. But when it tried to launch its own billboard marketing campaign, three large outdoor advertising companies refused to do business with it, citing the risk of offending other law firm clients, the company said.
‘Touching Such a Nerve’
Company founder and CEO Joshua Schwadron says the backlash that greeted Mighty Law affirms the importance of the mission behind the new venture.
“The fact that this is touching such a nerve across thousands of lawyers across the country who all have a singular way of working and charging is, for us, proof that we’re doing the right thing,” he said.
The most intense reaction of the new venture has come from and around Atlanta, said Schwadron, who calls Georgia the “epicenter” of efforts by the plaintiffs bar to oppose Mighty Law.
The State Bar of Georgia contacted Mighty Law after hearing numerous complaints from members about the venture, said Schwadron. Paula Frederick, general counsel for the state bar, confirmed that her organization contacted the company, but declined to discuss details.
In addition, clients of Mighty Law might have difficulty getting treated for injuries stemming from car accidents.
Alex Nguyen took to Facebook to write that his firm, 770 Goodlaw in Norcross, Georgia, will not do business with any chiropractor or orthopedist who treats clients from Mighty. Nguyen said he has doubts about Mighty’s new venture because, he claimed, its medical data business was built by offering gift certificates to chiropractic office assistants who agreed to enter their office’s medical data into the company’s proprietary database. Schwadron said that is “absolutely not true,” and called that claim “the sort of baseless accusation that we expect people to drum up.”
Schwadron says his firm received a cease-and-desist letter from personal injury megafirm Morgan & Morgan, which threatened litigation. That firm took issue with Mighty Law’s purchase of search engine keyword advertising targeting it, he said.
But Morgan & Morgan founder John Morgan said in an email that “we welcome all competitors.” A company spokesperson declined to comment further.
But Schwadron said the keyword dispute was “going to be the opening salvo of a much larger campaign to challenge a new entrant to the market that is less expensive, that is providing more services, that is much more transparent than they are.”
Mighty Law’s website says that “billboard lawyers” sometimes outsource tasks such as printing and making phone calls for medical records and then pass those costs along to their client to pay, and charge up to 45% of the settlement, compared with 30% at Mighty.
Charles Dalziel Jr. of the Dalziel Law Firm in Marietta, Georgia, expressed skepticism about Mighty Law and Schwadron in posts on LinkedIn. Still, Dalziel said he is not part of the movement to bar chiropractors and orthopedists from working for the new firm.
“It’s just turf,” Dalziel said of the backlash against Mighty Law. “People who are along the bottom end of the personal injury practice, where they’re doing small claims, I’m sure they’re worried about Mighty taking market share,” he said.
Thrown Under the Bus
The way Mighty Law denigrates other personal injury lawyers is a big factor in the backlash the new venture has faced, said Darl Champion, who heads a Marietta, Georgia, personal injury firm.
“They basically threw the entire personal injury bar under the bus and made some pretty bold comments about personal injury lawyers in general. Are there certain criticisms that are warranted for certain firms in our industry? Sure. The other problem is they have created a business model that’s going to have many of the same inherent problems as the firms they criticize,” Champion said.
Champion deemed Mighty Law “background noise,” and predicted the firm would “fade away.”
“But it is problematic to me when an outsider who doesn’t do what personal injury firms do tries to enter the space by just dumping on everybody. It is, to me, arrogant and just shows a lack of self-awareness and a lack of understanding of what it actually takes to be a personal injury lawyer. Getting clients the best result takes a lot of work,” he said.
Schwadron sees the development of Mighty Law as a unique opportunity to reform the personal injury business.
“Nobody in personal injury has ever had a platform or the knowledge that I do to be able to point out all the things that are wrong in the industry, and I’m not afraid to do it,” he said. “It’s important for consumers that the industry is called out on bad behavior, and if I’m the person who has to do it, then I’m the person who has to do it.”