The ABA’s May 1st Law Day is an annual celebration of the role of law and the freedoms that all
Americans share. This past Law Day marked the 60th anniversary and our company, LegalShield, participated for the first time. Our Law Day 2018 consisted of one hundred and five attorneys answering calls and questions across the U.S. for 12 hours. These volunteer lawyers fielded 643 calls. That is a pretty good start. We learned many lessons and plan to make it bigger and better in 2019 with more promotion and additional social media to alert citizens about the free access to our attorneys.
Upon reflection, I believe that, with technology, specifically mobile applications, every day can be Law Day. We have heard about the digital divide for some time now, but I believe that we can overcome that hurdle by ensuring that access to legal services is at a minimum, mobile responsive. As I wrote earlier this spring here, our research shows that 91% of Americans have a smartphone. Therefore, services offered by lawyers must work seamlessly on the smartphone, not just the more expensive and therefore, less accessible laptop or tablet, will reach the majority of Americans.
A recent theme is that lawyers must meet clients whenever and wherever they wish. I think lawyers and legal services companies have gone beyond just mobile responsiveness and create simple to use mobile applications. It’s a critical step and necessary to address the access to justice gap. Reports from the state bar associations, the ABA, and the Legal Services Corporation all estimate that 4 of 5 citizens cannot access help for their legal problems. A big barrier is cost and, in turn, many who cannot afford a lawyer do not qualify for legal aid or other assistance.
Giving away valuable forms and using chatbot technology to answer questions without charge represent the way of the future for the legal profession. With millions underserved and millions more not even aware of their need for legal services, being able to answer simple questions immediately on a phone, is what clients are demanding. And lawyers should not be charging for these forms but rather helping clients properly navigate the various legal processes.
I am interested in hearing from other legal services providers or attorneys who are launching mobile applications that provide more than lists of lawyers. Any outreach or feedback is welcome on Twitter @Gundog8.
Next month, I will continue on the theme of meeting clients where they are and discuss legal portability, the notion that legal services must move around with clients.