The time honoured, hand tailored approach to cases favoured by lawyers over the centuries is restrictive. By forcing lawyers to deal with only one matter a time, legal services can only be immensely profitable if lawyers either bill a high hourly rate and/or deal with a high volume of cases.
Before computers and the internet, the hand tailored approach was the only means of providing services. But now with automation, artificial intelligence, and the Internet, we are no longer limited to the bespoke model. In the public’s interest, we need to rethink legal services and get creative. For example:
- We can provide online to the public high quality, vetted standard contracts by industry, pleadings by types of actions, motion material and so on. Ideally these forms would be created in a way that all someone needs to do is answer questions, and the program would automatically populate the entire document.
- We can provide research memos on common legal issues online (perhaps on CanLII). These memos would be in-depth and cover a variety of industries. This would avoid the constant replication of work amongst lawyers and would help even the playing field. Do we really need to reinvent the wheel each time?
- We can provide virtual duty counsel. That way people can FaceTime or Skype a lawyer for quick advice from anywhere in the province.
- Cases can be negotiated using a different model (e.g. eBay has a creative dispute resolution system).
Lawyers may argue that these changes have a host of problems and undermine the quality of services. Although there may be hurdles to overcome and kinks to workout, we should embrace change.
Changes are coming whether we like it or not. There is too big of a market left unserved by lawyers. Tech companies are bound to swoop in.
(The views expressed in this blog post are my personal views and do not reflect the views of any organization)