The Access and Affordability Committee of the State Bar's 21st Century Practice Task Force is tackling the new opportunities and challenges lawyers and potential clients face today in four specific areas: triage, referral and access to online information; access to quality legal counsel; use of legal technicians and supportive services; and business process analysis and simplification.
If we're going to take advantage of the Internet as a tool to help lawyers connect with clients and improve access to justice we need to understand how people act online and offline, and why. Open Law Lab is trying to do just that. Its creator, Margaret Hagan, is a fellow at Stanford Law School’s Center on the Legal Profession and lecturer at the Stanford d.school. One of her concerns, and our Task Force's, is how to guide people to pay more attention to possible legal help for their problems and prepare them to take maximum advantage of that help.
In that quest, click here for her (positive) critique of Google Accounts Privacy Checkup, culminating in these recommendations for designing an effective strategy for a legal health check-up "intervention":
- Reach out to the person, hopefully in a context (like the Google search) that relates to what you’re checking up on, so that they feel primed to engage on the topic
- Give them insights into their own status quo — tell them something about themselves that they don’t already know, or that frames it in an interesting way. It’s almost like a Buzzfeed ‘which kind are you’ quiz. Or here, where Google tells you who they think you are & what your preferences are.
- Tell them possible outcomes from their status quo. Give them a sense of what may come down the road — bad consequences, good ones, how they’ll be treated, what they’ll get — if they continue on with their current situation.
- Provide action steps in which they can immediately change their status quo — whether it’s by setting goals/preferences, taking a step to resolve a problem, reaching out to someone else for hep. Embed easy follow-up action into this review, so that the person can immediately exert their agency (while they’re still thinking about it, and while their preferences & long-term thinking are at the forefront).
Client counseling and prophylactic advice has always been central to good lawyering, but the type of interactive engagement Hagan is describing feels far different than the paternalistic model that has dominated legal practice for most of our professional history. Welcome to the 21st century.