Internet Newsletter for Lawyers
Edited by Nick Holmes and Delia Venables
There are not as many IT and practice management services for barristers as for solicitors but there are some very strong players available.
Here are the key players in this market (based on my web page www.venables.co.uk/chambers-it.htm), followed by two short articles from key providers of services to chambers, Martin Poulter and Helen Ford, providing a view of the past, the present and the future.
Under the Bar Council scheme launched in 2004, members of the public and businesses may now instruct barristers directly and without the intervention of a solicitor. There has been a lot of talk and discussion on this new “freedom” since then, along the lines of the following questions:
- Will it benefit members of the public?
- How easy is it to find, assess and then engage a direct access barrister?
- Will it be better for barristers willing to work directly with their clients? Will it be more profitable?
- What effect will it have on solicitors? Will this reduce their market share?
- What new methods are emerging for managing Direct access work?
This article is an attempt to find answers to these questions and generally to ask, “How is it going?”
With contributions from Gordon Healiss, Norma Laming and Greig Duncan
When I set up my web page on Transcription www.venables.co.uk/transcription.htm several years ago, it all seemed rather straightforward. I described the methods of input and output, the speed of the transcription, the security of the process and the cost.
Now, the concept of transcription has developed many new strands, in which the original concept of a transcription service from an external company is still present, albeit with great improvements in the input and output process, but with alternative options now also available, including voice recognition as the method of input and a process of automatic document generation, now merging with concepts of artificial intelligence.
In this article, I present three key strands of this topic.
This short article is based on my web page www.venables.co.uk/softwareireland.htm which provides links to the software companies websites.
The “problem” for Ireland, as for any smaller country, has been that the potential market for the sale of legal software is much smaller than for countries with larger numbers of law firms. A few years ago, this often meant that Irish legal software suppliers were in fact subsidiaries of larger UK software companies and others were genuinely small firms, possibly without a very large financial backing.
I see the jobs/recruitment arena as a clash between the expertise of specialist legal recruitment consultants, some of whom have been in the legal market for decades, and the “every job in the world” approach of the automatically generated sites, which hoover up jobs from all the other jobs sites and recruitment companies. The recruitment consultants will get to know you personally, whilst with the automatically generated sites, the candidate narrows the field by specifying the type of job required, the qualifications possessed by the candidate, the location of the job, the salary required, and so on, and is then provided with a filtered list of options.
This clash of cultures has been made more complicated by the widespread use of social media, particularly LinkedIn and Twitter, to locate suitable jobs or (from the other side of the table) suitable candidates.
Many solicitors provide free legal information on their websites. Is this good marketing or just giving away valuable information?
I maintain a section on my website called Free Legal Information for Individuals provided by Firms of Solicitors at www.venables.co.uk/individtopics.htm. This covers accidents, benefits, business, car crime, consumer, conveyancing, crime, divorce, death (probate, wills etc), debt, dental claims, discrimination, disability, education, employment … and so on, listed alphabetically.
When I recently carried out a major check of these entries, I found that many previous free legal resources have been removed or seriously reduced in scope. It seems that many firms of solicitors, having originally been keen to be part of the new and exciting World Wide Web have eventually decided that it was not really worth the effort.
What a silly question, you may be thinking; everyone has to have a website these days. Well yes, everyone has to have to have the basic details of the organisation online, with contact details and something which looks nice. But beyond that?
For many years, I have had a section about the Bar on my own website, at www.venables.co.uk/bar.htm where I provide basic details of several hundred chambers who have told me about their website and given me some information about their organisation. I looked through these recently, to remove the ones no longer in existence, and asked the others to provide updates to their descriptions which many (not all) have done. At the same time, I looked at the websites and tried to work out what they are trying to do with their site.
It is probably easier for companies to sell legal services and documents online than it is for firms of solicitors. This may seem unfair, given that the ultimate product (eg a divorce or a conveyance) was originally created by lawyers to protect the client. How can it be that non-lawyers can do it better?
In an article that I wrote for the March/April issue of this Newsletter, I described four reasons why I thought it was hard for a firm of solicitors to provide these products or services online. I said that:
- These products are technically difficult, requiring sophisticated (and expensive) software to do the job online, and considerable ongoing technical support.
- They are inherently risky for the firm in professional terms. Errors or misunderstandings could lead to serious legal problems for the firm – hardly good advertising for the firm.
- The relatively “simple” processes offered for online solution are not in any case very profitable, so a great deal of effort could lead to a relatively modest reward.
- A cheap online divorce or conveyance (say) is likely to undermine the solicitors “normal” work. A client could well say “Why should I pay a large amount of money for a personally managed divorce when you can provide the same service online for a third of the cost?
- Legal Web Watch: The role of technology in legal advice and assistance
- Delia’s legal web picks June 2018
- How to improve your practice using browser-based software
- Outsourced typing services: the answer to your admin woes
- Developments in ODR and the online court
- Re-consenting to marketing under GDPR?
- IT and practice management for chambers
- Cryptocurrencies explained
- When and how to use 301 redirects
- Algorithms in law
- Latest articles feed
- PDFs of the Newsletter
- Legal Web Watch