Keane Memorial Award for Excellence in eLawyering Goes to Orange County Legal Aid

The James I. Keane Memorial Award for Excellence in eLawyering for 2011 is going to the Legal Aid Society of Orange County for their Legal Genie Project, reports the eLawyering Task Force of the Law Practice Management Section of the ABA, the group that makes the Award.

James Keane was the first appointed Chair of the group, and passed away tragically from cancer six years ago.

Legal Genie - Keane Award Winner - 2011

Bob Cohen is the long time leader of Orange County Legal Aid, and provided the leadership for this Project. 

This project combines the use of advanced web-enabled document automation technology to generate Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 documents, as well as California divorce pleadings. It is unique because it involves a network of lawyers who provide legal advice, document review,  and other assistance to clients who use the program. The use of Internet technology makes it possible for the lawyers to be involved, and to also get paid a fee, because the entire transaction is made more efficient. The lawyers who participating get the benefit of the Legal Aid brand, and the marketing that results from promoting the project.

The Project demonstrates how a vertical branded network of attorneys, empowered by a robust technology platform, can provide legal services at an affordable fee to individuals who could not normally afford a lawyer.

This is from the Legal Genie website:

 “Legal Genie is a simple, affordable and reliable online service created by Legal Aid Society of Orange County. It is designed for people who do not qualify for legal aid and cannot afford the services of an attorney. It asks simple questions and puts answers on the forms in the correct place.

"Legal Genie is different from other services because it connects you to a licensed attorney on our Lawyers Referral Service panel. The LRS attorney will give you telephone consultations, review your documents and give you legal advice. Legal Genie combines the magic of technology with the help of a professional at a price you can afford.”

The formal granting of the Award will be on April 12, 2011, at a Lunch for all of the attendees of  ABA TECHSHOW in Chicago, Illinois at the Hilton Hotel.

60% of UK Survey Respondents Said They Would Buy Legal Advice From National Brands

YouGov, a research firm based in Great Britain, in a survey of consumer preferences for legal services recently reported that 60% of respondents said they would buy legal advice from brands like Barclays, AA, Co-op and Virgin. The report states that  “Law firms build their business on their reputation not on their brands and, in a highly fragmented market, recognisable legal brands are few and far between. The large non-legal brands could follow the Co-op’s example and build a strong presence relatively quickly in a market where no strong brands currently exist." In the US there are no national legal brands that serve consumers directly, except for LegalZoom, which isn't even a law firm. It would be interesting to see what would happen if nationally branded networks of law firms emerged to service consumers with a better value proposition than the typical local solo or small law firm practitioner.

The study also asked about online legal services: 34% of respondents said they would be more likely to choose a law firm that offered the convenience of online access to legal documents over one that had no online capability; 22% disagreed and 37% neither agreed nor disagreed.

Younger males were the most likely to choose a law firm with online services and access: 44% of 25-to-39 year-old males (and 40% of such women), along with 40% of 16-to-24 year-old males, would choose a law firm offering online access to documents over another law firm.

There is obviously a generational shift happening.  As a younger generation matures to the age where they have legal problems, their desire to deal with counsel online becomes a preference.