Consumers are open to using online legal services, so long as they are coupled with professional support, according to new research.
A survey of 503 consumers by legal technology provider The Law Wizard found that over two-thirds were attracted by the idea of performing legal tasks on the Internet. However, 72% indicated they would value support from a solicitor or other legal professional during the course of any online transaction.
The demand for pure DIY services was less clear, with only 17% prepared to perform legal tasks online without any assistance.
The survey found that consumers needing legal services are more likely to make the Internet their first port of call ahead of a solicitor (46% to 35%), although only a half were aware that they could use the Internet actually to perform some legal tasks. Of those, over a quarter (around 10% of all respondents) said they had actually done so, most commonly to draw up a will. A large majority of these people (83%) said they would do it again if the need arose.
Of the respondents who were not aware that legal tasks could be done online, 40% would either definitely or probably consider doing so, with a similar number unsure. Unsurprisingly, there was a correlation with age, as younger people were more likely to show interest.
The survey also revealed that the perceived benefits of online legal services are value and convenience, much more so than speed.
The Law Wizard co-founder Tom Hiskey said: ‘There is much doom and gloom about technology replacing lawyers, but our survey provides reassurance that expertise and a human angle are important. The key for professionals is to find the right combination of convenience, value and support. Demand is high and the market is in its infancy, so there are significant opportunities’.
In March, The Law Wizard launched Probate Wizard, a groundbreaking online probate service that allows people to handle straightforward cases themselves for £349. From next month it will also be sold to law firms as a white-label product.
The survey also looked specifically at probate, and of the 36% of respondents who were aware of the probate process, nearly 60% said they would consider doing all or part of it online.