“Advocacy meets innovation …”
Three words that welcome you to the homepage of the law firm of Barhoma & Associates and perfectly define its founder, Matthew Barhoma ’16.
“From my early days at California Western I always wanted to get involved with modern start-ups and represent people on the curve of innovation,” says Barhoma.
True to his word, this young attorney became a successful solo practitioner directly out of law school and is on the verge of launching a new platform called Esquire’d which he hopes will become a groundbreaking platform for lawyers.
Working as a 3L at San Diego-based Higgs Fletcher & Mack fueled Barhoma’s drive to be involved in leading-edge technology. “I was part of the legal team that represented a really innovative start-up,” recalls Barhoma. “Today, the start-up is valued at $15M and is generating quarterly profit.”
Following that, he joined the rainmaking sector of a criminal law firm. It was there that the idea for Esquire’d was born. “I built Esquire’d based on everything a criminal law firm would need from a licensed attorney,” he says.
The concept of Esquire’d is straightforward and intuitive. If an attorney cannot appear in court, at a deposition, a client meeting, or anything that requires the license of an attorney, he/she can come to Esquire’d, create a request, and upload supporting documentation. The technology then matches the request with an appearing attorney. The request is then accepted by the appearing attorney and fulfilled. Once the appearing attorney has completed the task, they submit the “verdict,” which is the company’s term for the results, and the attorney is subsequently paid.
“A profile and request can be created in seconds, right off your phone or computer,” says Barhoma.
Barhoma’s motivation to develop Esquire’d grew from his frustration when using competitive concepts.
“As such, I made it a point to partner up with a famous tech developer. Esquire’d is a legal tech company. It uses tech to matchmake, and it generates 24-hour payments to the appearing attorney—all electronically.”
Esquire’d is currently in beta testing with the launch scheduled for January 2020. Barhoma describes this phase as remarkable, and he and his team have been working round the clock to keep up with demand.
The feedback he has received has shown some interesting and unexpected insights. “There are a large number of retired attorneys who are interested in using the platform to make appearances,” says Barhoma. “That means you can get the experience of someone who has been in the field for 30+ years to cover your hearing!”
Barhoma points out that the platform is also ideal for newer lawyers who want in-court experience but are not currently working for a firm. “This appearance field will teach you every kind of law (e.g., family law, criminal law, civil litigation, bankruptcy, immigration, etc.) and as such, newer lawyers can complete more minimal tasks to get the necessary experience,” he adds.
Barhoma credited his ability to hit the ground running right after law school squarely on California Western. “I started my own firm directly out of law school,” he says. “That really speaks for itself.”
He admits that he hears the lessons of his professors daily as he deals with a variety of legal issues. “I often hear the advice of Professor Klein, Professor Kim, or Professor Hardee echo in my head,” he says. “Even more, I have reached out to all those professors in the past for practice tips. Every one of them gave me great insight for my clients.”
Following the launch, Barhoma has significant developments in the pipeline to keep Esquire’d at the leading edge of technology. “We are incorporating geo-location, which will enable attorneys of record to locate the appearing attorney from a simple glance at their phone,” says Barhoma. “This is going to really empower the users! We also are tackling two-way communication and reviews, which will make the platform smarter to deal with.”
Different versions of Esquire’d are also under development, details of which Barhoma will share in due time.
Matthew Barhoma sums up his career journey and innovative platform in a simple statement—“Work your heart out and be bold.”
Words of advice that he is happy to pass on to aspiring California Western students today.