June 2019

In the film Minority Report, Tom Cruise, as the head of a “pre-crime” unit, apprehends criminals based on foreknowledge provided by psychics. This results in low crime levels, but also in a world where knowing the future limits choice and access to justice.

The reality of case prediction practice is very different from this dystopian vision.

At the end of March 2019 Justis was acquired by vLex, a legal technology company founded in Barcelona with offices across the world. While we are at the beginning stages of planning what this means for both JustisOne and the vLex platform, we are able to speculate as to how Justis, a vLex company, might look.

Since the launch of JustisOne in 2017, we have been continuing to enhance the range of features available to our users. Most recently, we have been updating our Browse feature and adding Alerting to enable our users to stay up-to-date with the latest developments in areas of law that are relevant to them. Alongside this, we have increased the range of content on the platform, with the launch of the Human Rights collection.

These developments are covered in detail below.

Litigation is expensive; all lawyers know it. Clients who have been through any significant litigation understand that precious few alternatives exist for resolving a dispute where the parties cannot reach a negotiated settlement.

Where there is an absence of goodwill and a shortage of funding, potentially successful claims can be difficult to pursue, particularly since legislation prevents the recovery of success fees and “after the event” legal expenses insurance premiums from defendants, even where claims are successful.

One avenue which is increasingly gaining in popularity and traction is that of crowdfunding for litigation, and there are clear signs that this is moving from the province of public interest claims into broader commercial and individual disputes.

Suppose that, tomorrow, you needed to create a business that provides legal services – but law firms had never been invented, and you didn’t have that reference point to use as a template. Being a sensible and forward-thinking person, you might come up with an entity that featured many of the following characteristics:

  • A privately owned corporation, perhaps with significant initial venture capital and the possibility of an IPO down the line, to assure yourself of operating and investment funds.
  • A focus on markets where incumbent providers (lawyers) are scarce and where potential customers are therefore underserved and plentiful (say, consumers and small businesses).
  • A range of affordable legal document assembly tools, accessible online 24/7, that can deliver extremely high-margin solutions to the basic legal needs of your customers.
  • A network of reliable local lawyers to whom your customers’ more complex legal matters can be referred, and for whom your brand and market reach constitute a powerful marketing force.

In other words, you might wind up creating something like LegalZoom.

In its Report to the Civil Justice Council in February 2015, Online Dispute Resolution for Low Value Civil Claims, the ODR Advisory Group, chaired by Prof Richard Susskind recommended the establishment by HMCTS of an online court for low value civil claims, called HM Online Court (HMOC). This would overcome the fact that current practice and procedures were “too costly, too slow, and too complex, especially for litigants in person.”

This court service would be in three “tiers”. The first, “online evaluation”, would help users identify their problem, be aware of their rights and obligations and understand the options available to them.

Next, “online facilitation” would involve online mediation and negotiation, supported, where necessary, by telephone conferencing. Some “automated negotiation” might be involved.

If not resolved by mediation, “online judges” would decide suitable cases or parts of cases largely on the basis of papers submitted to them electronically, again supported, where necessary, by telephone conferencing.

Although its terms of reference were restricted to civil claims under the value of £25,000, it suggested that the jurisdiction of HMOC “should also be extended to suitable family disputes and to appropriate cases that come before today’s tribunals.”

Content marketing is crucial for any business, regardless of the industry you operate in. However, marketers can often fail to appreciate its value, especially if they’ve created content that’s failed in the past (and trust me, there are many content marketing mistakes you can make).

Perhaps what marketers don’t realise, however, is that when great content has been produced, it can help with SEO, digital PR and social media. Essentially, content marketing ties several aspects of digital marketing together; so for your brand to be truly successful, you need content marketing.