First, people seem to be fixated on problems, not solutions. Callers complained. They pointed out lawyers’ high fees and the lack of predictability. They talked about not being able to access lawyers to go ‘big boy’ court (so to speak). But dispute resolution (e.g. by using courts) is just one of many aspects of access to justice. Part of the solution in having better, quicker, and more affordable dispute resolution involves avoiding disputes, having simplified and perhaps more informal rules and procedures, and using non-lawyers (e.g. law clerks, paralegals, outsourcing, etc.) to conduct work that would otherwise be done by lawyers.
Second, people seemed to be somewhat dismissive of the idea that access to justice should involve preventative law. You can take a FREE Legal Health Checkup, for example, to find out how legally healthy you are. Why wait for legal surprises and disputes to arise in order to react? Why not talk with a lawyer to find out what issues you should be dealing with now to save yourself and your family money and headaches later on? You go to a doctor for an annual health checkup, so why don’t you go to a lawyer for an annual legal checkup?
Third, people don’t seem to think about innovative solutions that lawyers could offer through technology (particularly the Internet). This may be a generational gap issue. Older generations – those who primarily use legal services because they have more disposable income – are probably not used to shopping online for one. Nor are they used to educating themselves based on what lawyers write on their blogs, websites, and elsewhere. People see lawyers and their fees as the problem, not as the solution. But lawyers who people cannot otherwise afford can still service them through technology (e.g. check out our Legal Forms + Video Guides).
Fourth and final, the idea that more expensive lawyers are necessarily better (and therefore those with less resources cannot access justice) should be challenged. I was winning cases when I started as a new lawyer a few years ago and I was charging considerably less than opposing counsel. The reason I was winning was because I was more prepared, I spent more time doing hard work, and I presented my case with more authority. Opposing counsel was relying on their experience and advocacy techniques – but the judges would see through their empty arguments (to my client’s benefits). I’m sure the clients who retained opposing counsel for hundreds of dollars more per hour than I had been charging my client were thinking: I should have probably hired that young and hungry lawyer.
These are just some of my observations about yesterday’s show…