It used to be that the only direct-to-consumer (DTC) legal service around was a website that offered access to basic legal documents like wills and rental agreements. That is no more. The nascent DTC market has exploded in the last couple of years thanks to an influx of mobile apps and service providers.
A growing DTC market has some in the legal sector wondering what is afoot. Could it be that the long-standing monopoly lawyers have had on proffering legal advice is responsible for creating demand for DTC services? At least one expert thinks so. Canadian lawyer and former Ontario Attorney General Chris Bentley asserted as much in a recent lecture and report given on behalf of the Law Society of Ontario.
Bentley insists that lawyers have enjoyed monopoly on legal advice for quite some time. One of the results has been a gradual restriction of legal services among consumers who cannot afford attorneys. Bentley says that DTC providers are merely stepping in to offer more affordable services that act as a stopgap for a system that prices out those without financial means.
As law firms and corporate law departments are turning to technologically advanced case management applications like NuLaw, consumers are turning to DTC apps that give them access to the services they need without going directly to a lawyer. So, just what kinds of services are available direct to consumers? There are growing number of possibilities, including:
We could continue, but hopefully you get the point. The DTC market is exploding thanks to emerging technologies that are making it less necessary to rely on an attorney for matters not directly related to complex litigation or criminal cases.
At this point, it should be noted that the traditional legal sector and the DTC market can work together moving forward. It does not have to be a ‘one or the other’ scenario. Lawyers have had a monopoly on legal services for as long as most of us can remember, but they can afford to offload some of their less complex work to the DTC market. Likewise, there are some things DTC services just cannot deliver.
While case management applications are putting more technology into the hands of law firms, DTC providers are offering similar technologies to consumers. This is a good thing in that it opens up access to people who would otherwise be shut out of the system.