According to LegalShield, roughly 70 percent of people use their cell phones to search for legal guidance. It’s a statistic that fits in neatly with those from other industries. Increasingly, people are relying on the technology in their own hands to find solutions to common problems.
While it’s possible to use a browser on your phone to find legal advice, legal aid apps tend to streamline the process. These are mobile apps that are specifically designed to give you the knowledge you need to navigate legal situations and the resources to find a personal injury lawyer or similar legal representation. Some examples include:
Ask a Lawyer: This app allows you to find a free consultation with a lawyer. This also gives lawyers an opportunity to expand their list of clients.
DoNotPay: This famous “chatbot” uses artificial intelligence to help you make legal decisions, such as how to appeal a parking ticket.
BernieSez: With this app, you can take a picture of legal paperwork, such as a parking ticket, and upload it so that experienced lawyers can see it. From there, you can compare attorneys and find legal representation you’re comfortable with.
Legal Services Link: This app helps you find an attorney in your local area. It’s especially useful for comparing fees charged by competing attorneys, and DigitalTrends has compared it to the Tinder dating app.
With the rise of legal aid apps, are traditional law firms obsolete? It’s unlikely. Some of these apps not only help those in need of legal advice but actual lawyers as well. Also, the technology has its share of downsides that need to be weighed alongside its benefits.
Thanks to Netflix and Hulu, you don’t have to wait to see your favorite television show, and thanks to text messaging you can communicate with friends in the middle of the workday. Legal apps bring that same level of expediency to the process of finding an attorney or legal advice.
As is also the case with Netflix and Hulu, portability is another benefit. If you happen to run into legal trouble while you’re out of town, you can use these apps to find advice that’s relevant to your current location. This is especially useful since laws can vary between states.
If you’ve never hired an attorney before, many legal apps simply take the stress out of the process. You can compare costs and find a lawyer with an amount of experience you feel comfortable with.
When it comes to chatbots, low-quality programs or those designed by non-lawyers can offer up not-so-helpful advice. In a worst-case scenario, a chatbot could actually give you advice that leads you into further legal jeopardy. It’s important to assess user reviews of these apps, and always look for a second opinion on legal matters whenever possible.
Lawyers who decide to find new clients via legal apps need to consider specifics of the process as well carefully. For example, when chatting with a potential client, attorney-client privilege has to start at some point. But when?
Overall, legal aid apps can be useful resources, but they’re not the end-all-be-all solution. A legal chatbot can provide quick advice in a pinch and when there’s little at stake. But when more consequential cases come around, you’re better off meeting face-to-face with an experienced attorney.
Attorneys who are hoping to capitalize on the technology can use these apps to engage clients, but at some point, an actual meeting is in their best interests as well. Establishing a personal connection is what will foster a sense of trust between those looking for legal advice and those who are willing to provide it.