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Comment on divorce & family law 

Rocket Lawyer launches divorce debate

3 Comments

With all the focus on the Legal Services Act – the so called Tesco’s Law – which comes into force in October, little attention has been given to another potential innovation in the sector launched in the US recently and set to come to the UK shortly.

The snappily titled Rocket Lawyer, from the venture capital arm of Google, no less, is an “online legal document assembly service” aimed at allowing those involved in certain types of cases, including divorce, to access and prepare their own documents.

The innovation is getting a mixed response with some suggesting it will take away valuable drafting fees from family lawyers, while others think it will just take on some of the more menial tasks, leaving family lawyers to get on with offering guidance and advice.

We have a while yet to debate it as it is suggested it will not be here until late next year at the earliest. However, I think it could be great for people who:

  • are no longer entitled to Legal Aid but who feel they cannot afford legal advice
  • people who want to do a lot of the paperwork themselves
  • people who just like to feel that they have a real part to play in the process.

In many ways, we could do with something like this now, with the proposed Legal Aid changes and the generally tight economic conditions prompting more people to look at how they can do more things themselves to reduce costs. Divorce is not exempt from that.

If the advice on Rocket Lawyer’s site is correct, then it appears it will play a positive role in helping people. However, a glaring problem I can see is that it takes an experienced family lawyer to know if the advice is right, especially as every marriage and every divorce case is different. I hope it will include some basic guidelines for people to help them understand that the word “divorce” does not include sorting out house, finances and children’s arrangements.

All in all, anything that makes divorce easier for our clients is welcomed by me. But, good luck! With the present state of the court system, the no doubt well-set-up and quick Google system could grind to a halt as soon as the papers hit the court system. That’s a problem we struggle with daily.

Andrew Woolley
Family solicitor

Comments

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Andrew

I am pleased to see that you are raising the on-line model as well as our hopeless court system. In time more clients will get comfortable with buying and using on-line services. But of course it will only deal with certain aspects of litigation whether that it is your arena or commercial litigation (previously my area of practice). The one glaring issue for me is that law firms should, as a collective, be driving what they need and be suppliers to others (possibly) rather than being consumers of IT. Also, it puts them on the periphery where power is put in the hands of big companies who can afford to race to the bottom line. For me, it is all about working with firms who are energised to change, rather than waiting on the side-lines hoping that things can’t get any worse. Fat chance.

regards
Julian…

By Julian Summerhayes on Thursday September 1, 2011

An interesting post. Made me think, only partly tongue-in-cheek, that an aggrieved spouse might also seek to post negative review or-1’s on google to get back at a spouse ! ...

By David Swede on Thursday September 1, 2011

I am in favour of anything that:

...gives clients choice

...keeps control with them

...saves cost

Most people do and still will want to speak to an experienced, specialist family lawyer for advice. Forms are one thing, advice based on years of experience is totally another….

By Andrew Woolley on Thursday September 1, 2011

What do you think?


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