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Is a Lawyer Monopoly Responsible for Creating DTC Market

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.

A Growing Number of Possibilities

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:

  • Online Divorce – Couples willing to engage in an uncontested divorce do not necessarily have to go to divorce lawyers anymore. They can utilize online tools to create the documents they need to finalize the decision they have already made.
  • Fighting Tickets – Another popular product is one that provides software for fighting traffic tickets online. The system uses artificial intelligence and a mountain of traffic ticket data to arm consumers with a defense they can take to court.
  • DIY Wills – DIY wills are what started the entire DTC market more than a decade ago. They are still available. Consumers go online and use smart tools to create wills and other similar documents relating to estate planning.
  • Business Needs – Business owners have access to a full range of DTC tools for legally establishing new enterprises. They can form new corporations and LLCs in a self-help setting.
  • Intellectual Property – Services relating to trademarks, copyrights, patents, etc. are also available in the DTC market. Again, high-tech tools allow consumers to complete and submit all of the documents they need without going to an attorney.

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.

The Two Can Work Together

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.