I have always had it in mind to provide legal solutions to the myriad problems facing businesses in various industries. The thought of creating these solutions virtually has also been one that I have nurtured in my mind time and again, I’ve always thought of creating legal solutions through a Virtual Law Firm. Recently, I stumbled upon the Presentation below from slideshare which aptly put this aspiration into perspective which I didn’t hesitate to pin it on my virtual board on Pinterest. A virtual Law Office is an online platform that allows Clients to access some Legal services in addition to the offline services already provided by a particular traditional Law Firm. It is a way of building on an already existing offline Lawyer-Client relationship. A virtual Law firm is characterised by access by the firms’s clients to a password protected and secure web space where both the attorney and client may interact and legal services are further consumed by the client. More specifically, it can be defined as having a secure client portal that is accessible from the law firm’s web site.
Like every area of human endeavour, a virtual Law Firm has its pros and cons, despite the fact that it enables clients to: 1. assemble legal documents over the web;
2. get legal advice online by telephone or email;
3. store their legal documents online;
4. collaborate with their lawyers online through threaded discussions which are archived and
5. access legal information, web advisors and intelligent calculators
It is not all aspects of legal services that can be done virtually, most service will still require face-to-face interaction with the Lawyer coupled with the fact that confidentiality of document on the web cannot be completely ascertained.
Although, the Rules of Professional Conduct (RPC) for Nigerian Lawyers require that a Client briefs his Lawyer in the Office unless there are exceptional circumstances such as old age or illness of the Client that requires the Lawyer to bend the Rules by visiting the Client instead. The RPC is silent on any provision relating to a Virtual Law Firm possibly because online interaction was not envisage as at the time the Rules were made. There is no gainsaying the fact that the need to connect with the web 2.0 savvy businesses and capture new clients who are part of “the latent market for legal services” who don’t use Lawyers may demand a further and better approach in creating effective legal solutions for combating the challenges in this digital age.
See the full version of the Presentation from slideshare below: