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The idea of “virtual law practice” is more relevant than ever in the age of the Coronavirus.” Virtual law practice could become the new normal. What is a “Virtual Law Practice”? The idea of virtual lawyering can be traced to the early days of the Internet new law firm Web sites such as http://www.visalaw.com and http://www.mdfamilylawyer.com first appeared. In January 2000, William Paul, then president of the American Bar Association, created the ABA eLawyering, Task Force. President Paul’s vision was that lawyers would be able to use the power of the Internet to serve clients of moderate means who have…
The State Bar of California’s Task Force on Access Through Innovation of Legal Services is now proposing to regulate legal software publishers. The specific proposed recommendations that would affect legal software publishers include: Recommendation 2.3: State-certified/registered/approved entities using technology-driven legal services delivery systems should not be limited or restrained by any concept or definition of “artificial intelligence.” Instead, regulation should be limited to technologies that perform the analytical functions of an attorney. Recommendation 2.4: The Regulator of State-certified/registered/approved entities using technology-driven legal services delivery systems must establish adequate ethical standards that regulate both the provider and the technology itself. Recommendation…
The Florida Bar is considering a new Chapter 23 to Register Online Service Providers. This proposal creates a framework voluntary registration of online service providers with the Florida Bar. The goal of the new rules is to provide greater access to legal services, the legal system, while at the same time providing public protection which according to the Florida Bar committee is lacking. An “online service provider” is defined as an “internet-based business that provides or offers to provide legal services to members of the public including providing legal forms the consumer can complete without a lawyer’s assistance. A…
See Presentation on this topic here. The legal document preparation industry has been around since the early 1990’s and has remained essentially the same, except a significant portion has moved online. It is a fast growing industry. What is the “legal document preparation industry”? The industry is composed of non-lawyers who assist consumers and small business in preparing legal forms, but without providing any legal advice or doing any custom drafting. The “Scrivener Exception” to Unauthorized Practice of Law. Legal document preparation by non-lawyers is not considered to be the “practice of law” as it falls within the “scrivener exception”…
In 2009, I started a company called DirectLaw.com, that provided client-centered technologies to solos and small law firms. Full Disclosure: the company still exists today but I sold my interest in 2017. At about the same time other other cloud-based practice management companies started up, such as Clio, RocketMatter, and MyCase that targeted the automation of the back-office operations of the law firms such as matter and client management, calendaring, timekeeping, invoicing, and accounting. Many of these companies evolved and are successful today by several different measures.. DirectLaw was created to provide client-facing technologies that would complement…
By a “legal product” we mean an online consumer-facing digital application (software), for sale or free, that substitutes for the work of an attorney. A legal product offers a legal solution to a legal problem through software and automated processes. A key difference between a product and a service is that a product can be produced and distributed at scale, while services are delivered on a one to one basis There are software applications that automate a law firm’s internal work processes that are supported by other organizations that are not the focus of this proposed organization. There is a…
TIKD is a start-up based in Coral Gables, Florida created by Christopher Riley, not a member of the Florida Bar, which provides a technology platform and financial guarantee for drivers who have received a traffic ticket. The Service is offered in four Florida counties and in four other states. The Florida Bar sued TIKD to put it out of business under the theory that the service constituted “the unauthorized practice of law.” How It Works A person who has received a traffic ticket can request TIKD’s services by uploading a picture of the ticket and creating an account. TIKD then…
How is it that a publisher that sells or distributes online legal software for consumers is now considered the “practice of law” in the State of Tennessee? Under a new regulatory scheme to be adopted by the Tennessee legislature, the publisher of a website that offers interactive legal forms to consumers will be considered the practice of law, unless the publisher complies with the requirements of the proposed statute. Non-compliance means the publisher is “subject to penalties for the unauthorized practice of law.” These penalties include a $10,000 civil fine and a violation could be a Class A misdemeanor. This…
Online legal document providers would be regulated under a resolution proposed by the New York State Bar Association and the New York County Lawyers Association to the American Bar Association for approval at its Annual Meeting in Chicago this August. The proposal was submitted without providing an opportunity for comment and review by interested parties and other ABA entities. An annotated version of the Resolution can be found here, which discusses in detail the most objectionable aspects of the proposed regulation. Under the guise of consumer protection, the proposed resolution creates major barriers to innovation and would be the…
Under the guise of consumer protection, North Carolina has passed new legislation, at the direction of the North Carolina Bar, that imposes restrictions on distributing self-help legal software over the Internet. Rather than protecting consumers, this legislation is a frightened response by the North Carolina Bar to protect their lawyer’s incomes from the impact of advances in Internet technology that provide new ways for people to solve their legal problems at low cost. The restrictions are so severe that the result is to deprive North Carolina’s citizens of low cost solutions to solving many legal problems, inhibits innovation in developing…