Exclusive: video-conferencing kiosks hit shopping centres in new legal advice push

Instant Law: a mock-up of how the kiosk will look

The first video-conferencing kiosk to give instant access to a solicitor will be launched in a shopping centre this month, Legal Futures can reveal.

Instant Law UK’s pilot at Queensgate Shopping Centre in Peterborough, with two others set to go live in December, is the precursor to a network of 120 kiosks in shopping centres around the country by the end of 2012.

The service will also be available to home users from next month as Instant Law has developed a Skype-type system that they can easily download to access it.

For a fixed fee of £29.99, users get a consultation with a solicitor from a large, well-known law firm that we have been asked not to name at this point. The service covers a wide range of practice areas, such as family law, employment, contract disputes, personal injury and immigration.

It will be available from 9am to 8pm, Monday to Saturday (also Sunday for home users), and users will be able to instruct the firm if further work is required, with a percentage of the fee going to Instant Law.

Mike Poore, head of IT communications at Instant Law UK, said: “This is unique opportunity for technology and a traditional market to come together to truly open access and deliver a quality customer experience.”

A spokesman added that Instant Law provided convenience and certainty, and would not remove the need for traditional high street solicitors. “It’s giving the customer another option,” he said.

The kiosks – looking like traditional red telephone boxes – contain a touch screen from which users select their area of law. This takes them through to a ‘receptionist’ who will take details and payment, and then forward the call to a solicitor. Testing shows the average call takes 15-20 minutes.

The spokesman said they were being realistic about the initial take-up, expecting around five contacts a day through the kiosks and 200 a day through home access, with a conversion rate into full fee-paying clients of approximately 10%.

He said Instant Law and shopping centre owners saw it as a long-term project that could move onto other services, such as financial advice. “Legal is the one we think people are ready for,” he said.

The hope is that the advice kiosk will in time become a facility that consumers know is available in shopping centres, along with photo booths and cash points.

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