Transforming the law

'The second theme of the book Transforming the law is my passionate believe that I. T can be used to increase access to justice. Through the internet, I argue non-lawyers will be able to identify and understand their legal rights and duties and be able to pursue their entitlements far more easily than has ever been possible in the past.

When I refer to access to justice I mean more than speedier, cheaper and less combative mechanisms for dissolving disputes, I am also referring to the avoidance of disputes through better understanding of the law, and readier and more widespread appreciation and harnessing of the benefits that the law can offer. ' This statement is by Richard Suskind a leading and respected writer Before computers and the internet became so popular if you had a question of law and did not have a legal person as a friend or family member the only other avenue for seeking advice would be via a lawyer/solicitor.

This was normally a costly way to find out information, firstly you are charged a fee just for enquiring about a case. Most people did not go down this avenue due to mainly time and costs. With the introduction home computers and having 24/7 access to the internet people had more than that small restricted avenue, It was the world. Oftel released the latest figures in its regular quarterly look at consumers' use of the internet. Before now the study has revealed a steady upward rise in the numbers of households getting connected to the net.

In the three months between February and May this year the number of people using the net at home grew by a healthy one million homes to 34% of the total population. By May the figure had leapt again to 40%. But from May to August Britain's home net population seems to have fallen slightly to 39%. The internet is so widely and cheaply available and people get more confident to settle disputes by saying "look, I have found the info on a website and it says this" the confidence of that person having that information cas as Richard Suskind says will dissolve problems before a solicitor has to get involved.

I myself have proof of this situation occurring. About a year ago I purchased a second hand car from a car dealer, within six weeks of purchase I found the roof of the vehicle was scratched very badly and this had obviously been hidden from me when I purchased the car. I took the car back to the dealer to show him the scratches and he stated that the car was purchased by me as a 'sold as seen' item and there was nothing I could do to change that. After seeking advice online via my PC I found that it was infact against the law for me to sign a 'sold as seen' document when issued by a car dealer.

Having this information gave me the confidence to sort out the problem myself and it worked, I got my car resprayed free of charge. As technology moves on, any company that does not move on will indeed fail as with the floppy disc story many writers use to compare technology changes. This shows that a company can get on the top of their overall market, but if they decide just to manufacture 12" floppy discs instead of the new 3 and half inch – 1 and a half inch discs then their market will dry up, as all the other companies that manufacture their components will also have moved on and so will the customers.

This would also happen in the case of a legal firm having an up to date website today. Richard Suskind states that he believes in the end all legal advice will be supplied in this way, it would be a less time consuming market with correspondence via E-mails and file transfers with today's technology you could in fact already achieve. Signing of forms and documents can already be faxed between customer and solicitor and customer, even when a proof of signature is required, a web camera can be set up and a solicitor can watch a client adhere to all the rules laid out.

I would most definitely agree with Richard Suskind theory of what he believes and what is the changing of technology in our every day lifes. From the information I have gathered it seems that smaller companies will be the ones who need to be a head of the larger ones, when it comes to internet services for their existing and future clients. When I compiled a search on the internet for advice it was normally a free service for a limited amount of information, but you then needed to leave details for a solicitor to contact you regarding your question.

It rarely states how much a client will be charged for this information, although I did mail a solicitor re a wheel clamper clamping a car. My question was replied to within 24hrs and I did not get charged a penny for it. So then I wished to know how a solicitors firm can make a living from on online based advice centre. I found a few ways for them to do this, firstly they can use an affiliate program where they have companies and internet businesses advertising on their site and for every visitor they get a set amount of money (i??

3) although, the larger companies did not use this method I rely totally on their website bring the customers in, just like an advert in a magazine or paper would. Your coverage is nationwide and not local, people do not I feel mind paying for a solicitor, but finding the right one for you can be limited if done locally. A subscription based website is also a way to have an income via the online world, an update for the law you require is easily obtainable on the net, but sometimes it does not make much sense, these companies who offer subscription sites will give you the relevant information and set downloads for up-to-date forms etc.

Clifford Chance is probably the most famous solicitor due to his famous clients and publicity. In 1998 he launched Nextlaw, an online legal platform service that is easy to use technology and allows his clients to exchange information quickly and securely online. He has also won (for Clifford Chance Direct) an award for best innovation at the eBusiness transformation awards.

The platform he uses is very impressive a company will have their won website connected to the main frame and as the address of that site starts with HTTPS this means it is a secure website and is encrypted which is safer for passing information via an internet connection, they also keep that particular company up to date with the law relating to their business citing new EU legislation is just one example of this. Richard Suskind I believe would probably say Clifford Chance is the role model for his theory for making the internet access much easier to law

Software for such long term views are already in progress Richard Suskind also argues that most lawyers will spend less and less time on conventional casework – advising and assisting individual and corporate clients on a one-to-one basis And how long will all this take to put into practice? It will probably take more than one human generation to reach completion. Twenty five years from now, a high quantity of lawyers will still operate chiefly through the medium of traditional, one-to-one casework. There are three main reasons for this. Firstly, there is a client-centred reason.

Many clients look for more than just legal advice and assistance from their lawyers. What they want is to be able to off-load the anxiety, distress and inconvenience that is associated with the conduct of legal matters onto a skilled, trusted professional. Thus, half of what clients are buying is peace of mind. Will legal information products be able to give the same emotional as well as the legal benefits as are derived from 'old-fashioned' caseworkers? Eventually perhaps, but twenty five years may well be too short a. The second reason is lawyer-centred.

A profession that is notorious for its adherence to traditional practices and work methods will not surrender them readily or lightly. This is particularly so in Britain at least, where the negative experiences that many lawyers have had with IT over the last twenty five years have left the profession suspicious of claims that IT can be of direct benefit to the operational side, as opposed to the administrative side, of legal practice. A single human generation is simply not long enough for the profession to be converted wholesale from casework lawyering to legal knowledge engineering.

The third reason is to do with the nature of concept shifts themselves. New concepts tend to take up earlier paradigms rather than to eradicate them. The new legal world will be characterised by a greater variety of ways of practising law. This variety will undoubtedly include the engineering and marketing of legal information products as well as, no doubt, the provision of education and support services offered in connection with the use of such products. However, it is predicted that one-to-one casework will continue to be an important service demanded by clients and provided by lawyers a quarter of a century from now.

Bibliography 

www.bbc.co.uk/news

http://elj.warwick.ac.uk/jilt/01-1/terrett.html

http://law.about.com

http://www.law.warwick.ac.uk

http://www.infolaw.co.uk/

http://web.lexis-nexis.com/professional

http://elj.warwick.ac.uk/jilt/01-1/mountain.html