Access to legal services has been talked about for as long as I can remember.
Heck, it’s one of the reasons many of us wanted to become lawyers. We wanted to help make a difference by helping those folks who needed a lawyer.
I am not referring solely to legal services being provided to those below a certain income level.
I am referring to middle income Americans who:
- Need access to basic legal information on a myriad of subjects at a state and local level;
- Need to know they have a legal need on which a lawyer can help them; and
- Need to be able to find an appropriate lawyer who they trust and can afford.
Lawyers are irrelevant to 85% of people.
- They don’t know they have a legal issue
- They are unaware of their rights and responsibilities whether from a contractual, civil or criminal standpoint
- They never thought of using a lawyer
- They don’t think they can afford a lawyer
- They wouldn’t know or trust a lawyer to contact
Access to legal services has been discussed ad infinitum by lawyers, law schools and bar associations since I was in college and law school about forty years ago.
Every bar association website makes reference to making legal information and legal services available to the public. But have bar associations been successful in getting meaningful information to the public, demonstrating that lawyers could help and connecting people with lawyers they could afford? Not really.
The answer is to leverage what every business and organization is leveraging today. Technology.
But not technology in the form of an app or website that reduces a lawyer to a commodity. We need to use technology in a way that connects lawyers to Americans in a real and meaningful.
Twenty years ago, AOL, Prodigy and CompuServe gave us a taste of lawyers connecting with people via technology.
Via rudimentary message boards, relevant information was provided by lawyers who knew their stuff. Consumers came to understand the type of lawyer they needed and where to turn for that lawyer. Lawyers established word of mouth reputations. Trust was established.
We’ve come a long way with technology, but the number of lawyers willing to give of themselves knowing that via relationships and word of mouth legal work will come in return is pretty limited.
Why not a national blog network of lawyers covering various areas of the law for various segments of our population? Blogs published by caring lawyers in communities across the country sharing their personal insight.
Crazy? Maybe not.
Image courtesy of Flickr by Lisa Ouellette