The previous section discussed the advantages of ODR. This section will list some of its disadvantages and, likewise, analyze the advantages and disadvantages of online legal guidance in general
The merits of ODR, as stated, include the fact that users can save time and expense by scheduling their meetings online at the comfort and convenience of all parties. Disputes, too, such as those by virtual traders can be resolved in a timelier applicable manner to the greater satisfaction and contentment of all parties. Telephone conferencing can be a long and arduous process shorter. These are merely some of the benefits that the ADR has noticed emerge from ODR to the point that they train their practitioners in the system.
Online legal guidance
A plethora of websites exist where clients can access so called experts of law who will provide legal guidance at competitive prices and for a range of issues. These online legal services, virtual lawyers, or legal advice systems -- amongst some of the terms used -- are services where clients do not need to turn to a human body. Instead these services might provide any number of a range of legal services ranging from providing expert legal diagnoses, generating legal documents, assisting in legal audits, or providing legal updates.
The merits of the system can be evidenced with the example of Linklaters' where the pioneering system enables clients to retrieve legal documents without going to the expense and trial and error lengthy process of time of hiring a conventional lawyer. This type of legal DIY has been replicated in various other similar and dissimilar online legal institutions. Users find it beneficial, and lawyers may find it a feasible route to promoting their services and attracting clients albeit in an online rather than offline environment.
Online dispute resolution
Dispute all its benefits, ODR certainly possesses its demerits too. This is best illustrated by iCourhouse where online users can present their case to hundreds if not thousands of laypeople that are drawn randomly form a panel of volunteers. The court is always in session and many of the procedures simulate that of the traditional, off-line court environment. Nonetheless, this type of mass-sourcing or open collaboration is still in its experimental stage and it is too soon to tell whether it may be effective in culminating with a reliable, unanimous decision. The quality and credibly of the volunteers is another question to be pandered with, aside which the quality of decision-making may be too shanty and biased. It certainly challenges fundamental assumptions of legal judgment and judicial outcome.
ODR is also disruptive for judges and lawyers for if clients choose to select other non-traditional routes; this causes the traditional legal profession to become a nonentity with the direct mediation and services of lawyers and judges not being needed. In fact, this shake up of the traditional legal system may result in some suspicious decisions passed off as 'legal' and with non-credible voices posturing as the Law. This may have dangerous ramifications and lead to anarchy on both a local and national, if not global, scale. The results may be apocryphal but real.
Even if judges and lawyers transfer their services to their dining-room tables, this first minor act of change can lead to breach of disrespect for the law ushering in later, and more serious, breaches, down the road.
Oral evidence from witnesses at witness stand is also, critics of ODR claim, important. The gestures and the mannerisms of the witness can be seen by all. This is impugned and eliminated by ODR. So, for various reasons, ODR may not be the tinctured blessing that Susskind makes it seem to be.
Online legal services
A range of similar demerits plague that of online legal services.
Traditional lawyers are displaced from their services and although these online services are rare and still relatively impotent in displacing the traditional lawyer, they are growing in number and in significance.
Many see these online legal services as law firms that "sell their family silver." Clients gain the same information that they ordinarily would offline from traditional lawyers in an alternative manner. Sometimes, this information is gained totally cost-free, and other times, lawyers are obligated to provide it at a far more reduced price than they would had these disruptive forces not come into play. At all events, critics of the system see this disruptive technology of online legal service, small though it is at the moment, potentially plaguing and undermining the traditional legal system and not only making a mockery of it but possibly leading to its diminishment in a dangerous and ominous manner.
The problems are evident. It seems as though "the party is over" for the legal professions. And yet Susskind points outs that far from over, the legal profession will always continue but may just have to change in reaction to the changing times. The law profession, in other words, in order to continue succeeding will have to modify itself and be prepared to make changes. New methods, systems, and processes will emerge and lawyers will have to adapt to cater to them. Multi-sourcing may also become the rule.
Susskind sees a new cadre of lawyers appearing and actually sees lawyers being divided it not 5 categories. These are:
1. The expert trusted advisor -- This will be the lawyer who will provide streamlined and tailored innovative guidance to clients who need it in addition to their online voyeurism
2. The enhanced practitioner -- who will supplement the standardized services and provide unique professional services that clients will be unable to attain in the regular / online way
3. The legal knowledge engineer -- Those who will be needed (in droves) to organize, catalogue and distill the large body of law in the computerized online legal systems
4. The legal risk manager -- Those who will be offering a wide range of proactive and preemptive legal services that will predict and prevent legal problems from occurring.
5. The legal hybrid -- the lawyer who is superbly schooled and multi-disciplinary in a cross-cutting section of law.
In short, whilst critics see certain technology as being disruptive and problematic to the legal profession, Susskind sees it as potentially generating an evolutionary paradigm that twill causes it to modify itself to the changing times and simply change direction becoming stronger in the process.
Technology is both helpful and disadvantageous to the legal profession. A purview of some of the legal online systems such as ODR and online legal institutions shows us that whist they may be helpful to clients they are potentially disrupting to the traditional legal system possibly spelling its doom and downfall in that lawyers will be forced to relinquish their base of business to non-conventional and virtual legal systems potentially displacing and disrupting traditional legal system.
Optimism can however be found in the thought that rather than being displaced, the legal profession will be forced to revise, reform, and modify itself in accordance to changing times. This will make it not only inculpate technology in its profession for its advantage, but also use technology to give it a new face helping it not only become more customer friendly but also acclimatize and shaped itself to new realities.
Conclusion: -Did it and Internet provide stiff competition for phone... - Did substantive work of lawyers change
According to Susskind "IT and the Internet have provided stiff competition for the phone, the ledger, the library, and the filing cabinet, but the substantive work of lawyers has yet to be reconfigured" (Susskind, the End of Lawyers? (OUP 2010 p 21).
Fifteen years ago, enthusiasts of AI said the same thing: that AI would overturn the legal profession. It has yet to do so (Mountain, 2002, 1065). This essay has however demonstrated that it and the Internet has posed as much competition for lawyers as it has for everything else. Certainly, the substantive work of lawyers has to be reconfigured, but it is in process of becoming so and is compelled to do so due to the phenomena of virtual reality that has attacked it in multiple manners. Dealing with the competing influence of online technology will cause lawyers to transform their profile and mode of working as well as almost everything else of the legal field.
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