Ten years ago, the internet suddenly made music free, shredding the business model of the music industry. A similar thing happened to journalism soon after, as newspapers – facing competition from blogs – were forced to place their content online for free. That same disruptive force now seems set to wreak havoc on law.
In a few hours, family lawyer Lisa Collins, of Colchester law firm Birkett Long Solicitors, will take to Twitter to offer free legal advice. The pioneering session, which takes place today between 12pm and 2pm, will cover conventional family law matters, plus issues faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
One question springs to mind: why pay for legal services when they can be provided for free on Twitter by lawyers like Collins who live in low cost areas of the country like Essex (where they can be sustained by their savings and practise law as a hobby)?
As an in-house lawyer, I find the innovation being demonstrated by Collins, and others like her, both chilling and exciting. Going forward, lawyers at international corporate firms of the type that I instruct will surely follow the lead being taken by these frontier-pushers, potentially driving a free-of-charge Ferrari through the horse and cart world of law.
The ones who survive will be those who find a way of gaining a position behind the wheel of that Ferrari, or at the very least a place in the passenger seat.
i@n davison is a senior in-house lawyer at a leading global solutions management company. There is more from i@n here.