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Saturday, 5 May 2012

The Virtual Lawyer

I can still remember my first mobile phone. It resembled a house brick and was certainly as heavy. The battery lasted about 45 minutes. I remember taking it on a camping holiday and within an hour I was looking for a call box.

I can also remember when I first had a PC on my desk. I stared at it in awe and wondered what happened next! I was certainly not the worst. I remember a cry of panic when someone said that their computer had just told them that they had performed an illegal operation. And somebody else complained that theirs was not working when, at that point, they only had a monitor!

I also remember my first effort at Facebook which saw me banned within 30 minutes. I thought it might be fun to form a group of people with my unusual surname. I was happily inviting everyone with my name to join up when, to my horror, a message came up to say I have broken the rules and was banned. I thought that was the end of my Facebook experience - forever!

How things have changed.

Who could imagine a law office without a computer on every desk? We are all used to working from Office Systems and emailing each other and clients.

But it seems that lawyers are less active than they should be in the field of Social Media. One recent report suggests that law firms are not the greatest users of the world’s most popular means of communication and interaction. My Linkedin page tells me that my 780 connections link me to 5,400,540 people. Who knew? And what sort of connections are possible through Facebook and Twitter??

Things have changed so much in 10 years that any law firm that does not embrace this new world is going to be left behind. I doubt if we are far away from the arrival of the virtual lawyer. It is already possible to communicate entirely online and social networking is developing this further. So, in years to come, will there be offices, desks, telephones – will all communications be with an avatar? Or maybe we will catch up with the Science Museum who have produced a phone App that enables you to scan a bar code at certain exhibits and see a pop up James May giving a short talk about it -

So will you be able to scan a picture of me and get a hologram explaining the law of Contributory Negligence?? Maybe not..

The world is changing around us and lawyers will need to completely change how they work.

But what will never change will be the need for someone who knows their stuff, is approachable, through whatever medium, and will go as far as it takes to progress their clients’ interests.

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