By Kevin O'Keefe

Can blogs and social media help provide access to legal services?

blogs social media access to the law

I first heard about Michigan State University College of Law’s Center for Legal Innovation (LegalRnD) while back at Michigan State for a two day blog and social media workshop last month.

Dan Linna (@danlinna), assistant dean for career development and director of LegalRnD, who brought me back for the workshop asked for my feedback on the goals for the center.

LegalRnD is dedicated to improving legal-service delivery and access across the legal industry. We accomplish this mission through research and development of efficient, high-quality legal-service delivery tools and systems. We do the research and development that has been lacking in the legal industry.

I liked it. I have always viewed the Interent as a tool for connecting lawyers willing to share  of themselves with people looking for legal information and ability to select a lawyer in an informed fashion.

Bars, the courts, law firms and even the government have talked of providing access to the law but it’s not worked. Lawyers are irrelevant to 85% of the people in this country.

I like LegalRnD’s approach of shifting to technology, organizational excellence, project magament and processes  to get the job done.

Historically, attempting to increase access to legal services has meant pouring resources into existing systems. But that approach has not worked. More recently, the focus has shifted to technology. We also leverage technology, but recognize that poorly defined processes, standards, and metrics lead to ineffective implementation. Understanding existing processes and how they produce (or fail to produce) value for clients creates a pathway to improving legal-service delivery. This way, we can measure and improve access with fewer resources.

LegalRnD is going bring together in-course counsel, law firm leaders. practicing lawyers from large to solo firms, law students, court personnel and law professors to study, drive national dialogue and be a player in implementing change.

What’s LegalRnD have to do with blogs and social media? Hopefully a lot — and I would like to see LexBlog play a part.

  • Blogs and social media advance knowledge far faster than publications of days past.
  • Blogs and social media connect like minded passionate individuals much faster than anything we have ever had before.
  • Reputation, relationships and word of mouth are accelerated via blogs and social media. Relationships and credibility will be key to LegalRnD’s agenda.
  • Blogs and social media will be the tools driving discussion on the subjects LegalRnD is driving.
  • Niche focused blogs (area of law or locale), properly used by law grads and lawyers as a whole bring access to the law.
  • Access to the law requires a growing trust in lawyers by the public – whether a consumer, small business person or corporate execute. It’s critical that we get law students, lawyers, corporations and the courts comfortable with social media and blogging. These mediums enable legal professionals to engage and interact with the public in a manner which establishes trust.

LegalRnD believes that innovation through legal research and development will bring the law to everyone. Sharing this belief, I’d love to see LexBlog and I play a part — through blogging and social media.

Kevin O'Keefe
About the Author

Trial lawyer turned legal tech entrepreneur, I am the founder and CEO of LexBlog, a legal blog community of over 30,000 blog publishers, worldwide. LexBlog’s publishing platform is used on a subscription basis by over 18,000 legal professionals, including the largest law firm in each India, China and the United States.

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