Could the internet transform legal services for people on low

Could the internet transform legal
services for people on low incomes?
Innovation in the Delivery of Legal
Services, 8 December 2014
Basis of assessment
Face to face Legal Services
and their Alternatives,
January 2014:
Digital Delivery and
Legal Services to
People on Low
Visits to the US,
Netherlands and British
The internet and access to justice: nine propositions
1. Digital exclusion is real but not entirely disabling.
2. It is the age of Aquarius: innovation is everywhere.
3. Law is national but technology is global: we can learn from other countries.
4. There is convergence - both in technologies and providers.
5. The future is interactive and mobile.
6. The internet opens the possibility of end to end provision from diagnosis to
7. The internet opens new opportunities for advancing skills
8. NGOs can have a leading role in development.
9. We need to re-engineer legal aid.
Digital inclusion and exclusion
Digital exclusion can relate to physical access, lack of skills or cultural
inhibition. It will change over time.
The growth of mobile adds to the challenge.
Exclusion more likely to be lack of skills (IT, language, cognitive) than
Pockets of exclusion will remain in some communities in population elderly, immigrant, for UK those with a disability.
Research reports 14 per cent of UK users would prefer not to use the
internet (Oxford Internet Survey) though 80 per cent of households have
Cannot assume in UK more than 50 per cent access in lowest income
groups. Digital needs integration with face to face - both internally and
Digital delivery offers the possibility of universal delivery.
The age of Aquarius: diversity and
A range of examples
A. Private practice
B. Advice Portals
C. Interactive information
D. Parental support - developing skills
E. Online communities
F. Developing avatars
G. Remembering basics - content remains king.
H. Challenges for government
Professional Legal Advice Online.
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A to Z index
England home
Debt and money
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Advice from Citizens Advice
Brings you the self-help information you need to
solve your problem
Avatars get real: from A2J to
The importance
of the practical
A reminder from
Connecticut. This is
brilliantly practical.
End to end services at the cutting edge : Rechtwijzer 2.0
and BC’s Civil Resolution Tribunal
1. Diagnosis and Information (intended to be free);
2. Intake (intended as fee-based);
3. Dialogue between the parties (free);
4. ‘Trialogue’ - an opportunity for online mediation (fee-based);
5. External online review (fee based).
6. Online adjudication if required (fee based also and conceived as part of the ‘trialogue
7 ‘After care’
What are the new frontiers for
Moving from information to advice
Incorporating personalised assistance
Moving from static information to dynamic interaction.
Learning how best to incorporate video
Taking a user from information to resolution (and dealing
with the resulting change(s) of paradigm)
Designing an holistic approach incorporating law, education,
skills and emotion.
The role of NGOs
NGOs need resources but can show the creativity.
Imagination may be as important as money.
NGOs have advantages as the ‘front end’ of provision.
At this stage, creativity and competition may be better than
centralisation e.g. British Columbia/ and
NGOs may provide a good way of integrating face to face services with
those based on the web.
An Example of Planning and national priorities the US
1. Creating in each state a unified “legal portal” which, by an automated triage process, directs persons
needing legal assistance to the most appropriate form of assistance and guides self-represented litigants
through the entire legal process
2. Deploying sophisticated document assembly applications to support the creation of legal documents by
service providers and by litigants themselves and linking the document creation process to the delivery of legal
information and limited scope legal representation
3. Taking advantage of mobile technologies to reach more persons more effectively
4. Applying business process/analysis to all access-to-justice activities to make them as efficient as practicable
5. Developing “expert systems” to assist lawyers and other services providers
What should our national priorities
be and from whom can we learn?
• Overall hard analysis: Legal aid cuts will not be restored - technology can help fill gaps but cannot
replace what has gone (see BC).
• Technology offers the possibility of seeing legal aid as a universal service (see New South Wales,
BC, elsewhere).
• Technology allows re-conception of legal aid as an end to end process in which lawyers are a
crucial but not sole - part of a continuum from diagnosis to resolution (see BC, The Netherlands).
• Private practitioners can reach a ‘latent legal market’ and this should be part of the pattern of
provision (look around in England and Wales).
• Courts and Tribunals can adapt to more self representation with more than personal support
centres (look at New South Wales, California, BC).
• Should we create an innovation fund with 1 per cent of the budget? (see the US)
• Should we incorporate an NGO led digital front end with telephone and face to face support? (see
most other jurisdictions)
• How do we foster leadership and creativity? Do we need the return of some form of intermediate
lead legal aid organisation? (see US)

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