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Could the internet transform legal services for people on low incomes? Innovation in the Delivery of Legal Services, 8 December 2014 ROGER SMITH.

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Presentation on theme: "Could the internet transform legal services for people on low incomes? Innovation in the Delivery of Legal Services, 8 December 2014 ROGER SMITH."— Presentation transcript:

1 Could the internet transform legal services for people on low incomes? Innovation in the Delivery of Legal Services, 8 December 2014 ROGER SMITH

2 Basis of assessment ❖ Face to face Legal Services and their Alternatives, January 2014: ss/law/cpls/Face_to_Face.pdf ss/law/cpls/Face_to_Face.pdf ❖ Digital Delivery and Legal Services to People on Low Incomes:( thelef.org ) thelef.org ❖ Visits to the US, Netherlands and British Columbia

3 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 resolution. 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.

4 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 physical ❖ 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 access. ❖ Cannot assume in UK more than 50 per cent access in lowest income groups. Digital needs integration with face to face - both internally and externally. ❖ Digital delivery offers the possibility of universal delivery.

5 The age of Aquarius: diversity and experiment 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

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7 Professional Legal Advice Online. Slater & Gordon Lawyers offers expert legal advice for all your legal matters – on- and off-line.

8 Search our site A to Z index England home Benefits Work Debt and money Consumer Relationships Housing Law and rights Discrimination Tax Healthcare Education Advice from Citizens Advice Brings you the self-help information you need to solve your problem

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12 Avatars get real: from A2J to JES

13 The importance of the practical A reminder from Connecticut. This is brilliantly practical.

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15 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’

16 What are the new frontiers for websites? ❖ 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.

17 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/ adviceguide.org.uk and advicenow.org.uk.adviceguide.org.uk advicenow.org.uk NGOs may provide a good way of integrating face to face services with those based on the web.

18 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

19 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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