client delighters #2 – instant access law

We hear a lot in legal marketing about the importance of becoming more accessible to potential clients.  Many see the web, and specifically web 2.0 as one tool to facilitate this.  The aim is to remove as many barriers as possible to providing the client with what they want  – that is to say the solution to their problem.  We blogged last year about expert-answers, who had set up a website with this goal in mind.  Simply typing in an answer and waiting for a reply from an on-line qualified expert was the premise, and their model is going from strength to strength; with wannabe organisations quickly jumping on this bandwagon.

What’s next?  An even faster, free service it seems, in the guise of @thelegaloracle on Twitter.  For you twitterati out there, you’ll know that twitter limits updates to just 140 characters, and is expected to hit 200,000,000 users worldwide in 2011.  The potential to directly access new clients is phenomenal.

There are plenty of lawyers out there signed up with a twitter account already, so what’s new about @thelegaloracle?  Social media strategies are evolving all the time, but it seems that @thelegaloracle has stolen the lead on the market.  Rather than providing dry updates on the practice, or answers to hypothetical legal issues (which are common)  @thelegaloracle is cutting to the chase and providing direct, bite-size chunks of legal advice, answering clients actual, real life queries.  Nick Jervis is the face behind @thelegaloracle.  He says,

“I have always felt that the law should be made more easily accessible to people of all backgrounds. Twitter provides a quick and easy method of communication between people, which is exactly what I wanted in the interest of making the law more widely available. Unlike Facebook, you don’t even have to be a member of Twitter to view the posts of others. Alongside this, Twitter limits you to 140 characters in your Tweets, proving that the law doesn’t have to be complicated, and many who were put off seeking legal advice before may be encouraged to do so now”

@thelegaloracle’s trailblazing approach to exposing the latent market appears to be paying off.  Although they have only been tweeting legal answers since December, momentum seems to be building…they’ve already tweeted over 60 answers, and have over 200 followers.  In internet speak, they’re on the verge of going viral.

Giving out free legal advice is such a direct manner is likely to cause lively debate in the legal world.  However, free initial advice is nothing new, and is an activity which most lawyers actively engage in, in the pursuit of a new client; often over the phone, or in an initial free meeting.  The only difference here, is the medium.  Its also important to remember that as legal information becomes more readily available over the net (often with no charge whatsoever), that the value of lawyers is changing.  It is difficult to see how information (and information sharing) will be of value to clients in the future. Clients will still pay for interpretation and experience, but information – unlikely.

Our advice to legal providers?  Watch the progress of @thelegaloracle closely, and be developing your own web 2.0 strategies in earnest.

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