Source: Josh Kubicki, Legal Transformation Institute. 2014.
Why Attorneys Won't Sue Your Cell Phone Carrier
As my colleague Terence, who is both an attorney and entrepreneur, says, "there's not enough juice in that turnip." The amount of money in dispute in cell phone contract cases is seldom enough to justify buying even one or two hours of an attorney's time, much less the twenty to thirty hours of manual legal work it would probably take to win your case.
Attorneys charge too much, and cell phone contract cases pay too little.
So what do you do? Most consumers just walk away. Legal academia calls this the problem of access to justice for "low-value claims."
The reason hiring an attorney would have been nice is that, not only would the consumer not have to burn that twenty to thirty hours, but he would have also enjoyed the confidence that the attorney had the required expertise to win the case.
With attorneys off of the table, the consumer is left with a wretched choice: do you fight for what you know is right but burn twenty to thirty hours pursuing a case you probably don't have the expertise or confidence to win? Or do you simply walk away? For most low-value claims, like cell phone contract disputes, consumers just walk away.
You walk away not because you don't think you're right, but because you can't afford to fight. If your claim is valid, you theoretically have the right to fight and win. But no fight means no win. If you can't even afford to fight, what does that say about your so-called rights as a consumer? It says "life's not fair, then you die."
That's an access to justice problem.
CellBreaker solves this problem with technology that reduces that twenty to thirty hours down to five minutes.
The legal profession focuses on inputs, number of people, hours and so forth, which is important if your revenue is driven by the billable hour.
By contrast, CellBreaker's model is based on outputs—how much we can produce in a given period of time while minimizing the cost of inputs and achieving guaranteed outcomes? In general, this is the difference between an expert and an expert system, the latter being non-human. Experts sell their time, whereas expert systems sell their efficiency.
What do those outputs look like?
In a cell phone contract case, it begins with the factual basis of the dispute. We need to collect that data and bolster it with written documentation. Did your price increase? Did your plan terms change? Did your calls start dropping suddenly? These are use cases that CellBreaker's expert system is designed to recognize and document instantly. So there is little setup cost for a user to find a basis for a valid claim and to document that basis.
From there, the outputs include the back-and-forth dialogue between the consumer and the cell phone carrier. Without an expert or expert system managing that dialogue, cell phone carriers are adept at sending consumers down any number of rabbit holes. "Call this number." "Hold please." "Explain your complaint to me." "Let me transfer you." "Hold please." Explain your case to me." And so on, ad nauseum. Cell phone carriers, as might imagine, are really good at getting you to give up by forcing you to waste your time.
But forget about attorneys. How much is your time worth? Is it even worth it for you to take your own case? For many people, probably not. Your time is worth too much and your claim too little. Here we are again: an access to justice problem.
Not only is our expert system more efficient than you, and attorneys, at getting out of your cell phone contract, but we've also centralized consumer wins--one big bank account to fight millions of low-claim cases rather than millions of small bank accounts funding their own cases. This means we can leverage the value of a million other CellBreaker users' claims in winning your cell phone contract case. It’s like a class-action but without that part about every class member getting a check for $8 and the class attorneys getting $8 million.
[At the cell phone carrier residence, late one night]:
"Look out the window. There's a guy standing out there with a torch and a pitchfork."
"Look out the window. There's a million torches and pitchforks out there. We're surrounded. Yikes, I recognize those people. Those are all of our customers we tried to pull a fast one on last month. Now where did I leave that white flag laying..."
A million consumers pissed-off at you for the exact same reason is a lot more powerful than just one consumer. We know there are millions of pissed-off consumers every month. Why not bring them together?
By the numbers...
CellBreaker only makes money when it saves you money, and the outcome is guaranteed: CellBreaker wins or foots the bill, meaning consumers are guaranteed the outcome they're seeking as soon as they start.
We're excited to bring contract justice to a massively under-served consumer market.
But given the atrophied state of the legal job market in last decade, we're also excited about enlarging the pie altogether. It's a win-win for both consumers and the legal profession. Here's how attorney Josh Kubicki puts it:
The entire US legal market can be valued at well over $400 billion. Mind you this is when all the segments of the market are combined...So how do we get to $400 billion?...$274 billion basically represents the size of the practicing lawyer market – from solos to BigLaw. This number is based on revenues as collected by the US Bureau of Labor & Statistics....There are other areas that could be added to this number as well but it gets truly challenging and takes some genuine ingenuity....What new areas of legal practice are being created that did not exist before (such as breaking cell phone carrier contracts like CellBreaker or ensuring TOS compliance as some other startups are taking on?)...With the combination of the above "latent" or "untapped" market along with the connected and tangent verticals - the total legal market gets to $400bb quite easily (ignoring other obvious markets like the law firm consulting market, litigation finance, and new tech - LegalZoom, Clio, WireLawyer, and ERM Legal).
The additional $126 billion of market opportunity that legal tech companies like CellBreaker have created are the reverse side of the access to justice coin. As entrepreneurs increasingly find ways to create and harness new technology to give under-served segments access to justice, the world becomes a richer place to be a consumer, to buy a cell phone, to be an attorney, and to live.
Martin Luther King, Jr. said "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, I'm looking at you. CellBreaker.com launched today, and we're not going to over-look cell phone contracts any longer.