More people have access to the internet than justice today!

More people have access to the internet today than access to justice.  Whilst this probably isn’t that surprising, it is equally a horrible statistic and one which needs rectifying.

Nearly everyone these days has internet access and probably when considering which firm of solicitors to use for various things people will consult the internet for contact details, reviews etc.

So a little while ago I read an article which discussed the role of the internet in terms of lawyers, access to justice and how the internet will continue to change the way lawyers work, as well as access information and a whole host of other things.

It has been suggested that the internet will be fundamental in overcoming many problems of legal exclusion (“and tomorrow’s lawyers must support this”).

There is no doubt that times are changing, and with new technology influencing our daily lives this will filter through into the legal profession.

As someone who is potentially one of “tomorrow’s lawyers” I have seen first hand how times have changed even in a 10 year period when I first started undertaking legal work experience, and the use of the internet has had a huge significance in many legal processes. Therefore it seems likely that the internet will play a role in the accessibility of justice and legal advice in years to come.

Statistics show that more than 95% of the British population have direct or indirect access to the internet, BUT only a minority of citizens can afford the services of lawyers when they require them.

Richard Susskind, believes that “the internet will itself be pivotal in overcoming many problems of legal exclusion.” He sees the new technologies as tools in saving a potentially struggling legal system; where there is currently such debate over the cost of lawyers and courts, access to legal aid, the future of legal education, the shape of tomorrow’s profession as well as the role of new providers in an increasingly liberalised market.

Richard Susskind also believes that part of the problem is that the Legal Profession struggles to implement change and move with the times, it lacks modernisation because the legal world look for solutions by extrapolating from the past and assuming continuity in the legal sector.

He wants to see the emergence of a legal industry which detracts itself from continuity and adopts a completely new set up, and he has written a book on this which discusses his ideas in far greater depth than I am going to on this blog – plus he has written countless articles. “The future of legal service will be neither Grisham not Rumpole. Nor will it be wigs, weighty times or arcane legal jargon. It will not even be the now-dominant model of lawyering, which is face-to-face, consultative professional service by advisers who meet clients in their offices and dispense tailored counsel”.

This is probably even more significant now given the extensive legal aid cuts and also more people trying to work things out for themselves.   I can see some concerns with people using internet solicitors who may not be up to scratch in terms of gaining cheaper legal advice and this could have massive implications.  But the use of the internet for legal work and research will no doubt continue to grow and develop, and this is also impacting on the way in which people network, as well as training courses being delivered online etc.   So from a “tomorrow’s lawyers” perspective the way in which we use the internet will no doubt continue to increase.

And to some extent it will probably ensure that more people have access to justice.  My only concern or worry is that it they may not necessarily be getting the best legal advice.

I also think that lawyers are already starting to far better utilise the internet for gaining work as well as utilising social media.  For example, a significant number of firms and chambers all have twitter pages and they regularly share their events and information/articles on these pages, and I believe that this is continuing to grow.

However, none of this currently rectifies what is quite frankly a horrible statistic that more people have internet access than access to justice!

Would love to know your thoughts!

Rebecca x

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