First legal advice video-link service goes live in Westminster library

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By Legal Futures

6 March 2012


Mike Poore of Instant Law UK (left) and Douglas Laird of Birmingham Library Services in front of the kiosk going into BIrmingham Central Library shortly

The first facility giving library users access to a free consultation with a lawyer via video-link launched in the heart of London yesterday, with both solicitors and barristers now supporting the concept.

Instant Law UK’s service at Westminster Reference Library will be the first of a series placed in Westminster City Council libraries – which between them receive nearly three million visitors a year. Marylebone’s will open next week.

As first reported on Legal Futures, Instant Law has done a similar deal with Birmingham City Council, and a red telephone box-style kiosk, in Birmingham Central Library, will go live later this month.

Located in a secure part of the library, users will choose the area on which they need advice – including immigration, employment, landlord and tenant, and family matters – and be patched thr

ough to an Instant Law adviser, who will then forward them to an appropriate lawyer for the initial consultation. Market testing shows these take about 20 minutes.

If more in-depth, paid-for advice is required, they will be referred to the HighStreetLawyer.com network, while in Birmingham it will be a combination of St Philips Chambers and an as-yet unnamed law firm as Instant Law wants to have local lawyers on hand if face-to-face advice is required.

Ian Dodd, Instant Law’s business development director, said: “People can often find it difficult to fix a convenient appointment time to discuss their problems and some find solicitors’ premises rather intimidating. Providing this service through the library network overcomes these problems and provides a professional advice service.”

Mike Poore, communications director at Instant Law, added. “We welcome the forward-looking drive in Westminster to use technology to increase and enhance advice services to their residents and other library visitors.”

Cllr Melvyn Caplan, cabinet member for customer services and transformation at Westminster City Council, said: “We have nearly two and three-quarter million visitors a year to Westminster’s libraries and we are committed to keeping our libraries open and expanding the range of services they offer to Londoners.

“We’re excited to play host to the country’s first online legal service, which will transform residents’ access to legal information and advice.”



3 Responses to “First legal advice video-link service goes live in Westminster library”

  1. This is great. But what happens to it when all the libraries close down?

  2. Louise Restell on March 6th, 2012 at 10:32 am
  3. Louise.
    Maybe Amazon will take it on.
    It can also be accessed directly by home users and in other places such as shopping centres.

  4. gary yantin on March 6th, 2012 at 7:07 pm
  5. If we get more services like this into libraries, and increase the users of library services, we can hopefully avoid “all” libraries closing.

    I suspect not all 4500 UK libraries wil be closed.

  6. IAN NETWORK on March 7th, 2012 at 2:03 pm

Legal Futures Blog

Be careful you do not leave anything behind: will we see the end of chambers?

Charles Feeny

Experience of practice by digital support suggests that working practices will become much more informal and spontaneous, not requiring support by specific entities or even contractual arrangements. This is likely to be particularly true of the Bar, which is or should be a profession focusing on individuals. The future of the Bar is more likely to resemble a library as seen in Scotland and Ireland – albeit an electronic library – rather than the traditional chambers structure.

January 18th, 2017