MCLE Self-Study Article: Tomorrow’s Lawyers: Online Delivery of Legal Services
By Pieter Gunst,Managing Director, New Actions LLC
Recent studies show that more than 75% of adults looking to hire an attorney use online resources in the process1 In the past, consumers of legal services made their selection primarily based on word of mouth and recommendations from friends. Today, the activity of searching for and selecting an attorney is increasingly taking place online. Expect two trends: online services supporting these activities will gain in importance over time, and that the nature of legal services provided through the online channel will become more and more sophisticated. These evolutions provide opportunities for the public and the legal profession alike.
Finding legal information
The past two decades saw the development of a variety of online services supporting clients in their search for legal help. Today, a large number of websites and blogs provide access to information about the law, covering a wide variety of subject areas. Services such as LawInfo (1995) and LawNetCom (1996) started offering textual explanations of the law to the public early on2 Federal and State governments also increasingly made legal sources available to the public. The availability of legal information through private and public sources, along with the development of powerful search tools, now allows anyone with Internet access to inform themselves to a reasonable extent about even niche areas of the law. Where legal knowledge and tools were previously inaccessible without the involvement of lawyers, this is no longer the case.