Can Google replace quality legal counsel? 3 reasons to proceed with caution with online legal resources

posted by Ronald Kowalski July 24, 2017
legal counsel

Online legal resources and technology are reshaping the profession

Developments in technology have done away with many occupations, from switchboard operators and video store employee to toll takers. Are lawyers next?! Probably not, but the legal profession will continue to be shaped by the proliferation of online legal counsel and resources. Twenty years ago, court decisions and statutes were primarily accessed in books or via expensive online research subscriptions. Only ten years ago the first iPhone was released, and this year the Pew Research Center found that 77% of Americans own smartphones. That means that today, nearly four in five Americans have the ability to conduct a wide range of personal and business affairs in the palms of their hands.

Most online legal resources appropriately contain a disclaimer stating that the information they disseminate is “not a substitute for the advice of an attorney,” even though they market themselves as affordable alternatives to hiring a lawyer. Various websites and apps offer resources assisting with everything from preparation of contracts, wills and litigation documents, to accessing Court decisions and statutes. In fact, effective July 1, 2017, the Connecticut Judicial Branch began publishing the Connecticut Law Journal, which is the State’s official publication of decisions by the Connecticut Supreme and Appellate Courts, and other important notices, free of charge on the Judicial Branch website.

3 reasons online resources are not an adequate substitute for experienced legal counsel

  1. While advances in artificial intelligence have enhanced the capabilities of online legal resources, they still lack the ability to understand and analyze the specifics of your situation, as a lawyer would. They also lack the ability to suggest alternative strategies or courses of action that may be available based on the specifics of your situation.
  2. Most online legal resources are also general and not jurisdiction-specific – so although the information disseminated may be based on a prevailing rule of law, it is not necessarily based on the law that will govern your particular situation.
  3. Finally, unlike lawyers, who are regulated and required to participate in mandatory continuing legal education courses every year, these online legal resources are largely unregulated, and consumers lack the protections that they may expect.

 

Overall, developments in online legal resources are positive. Many of these resources permit lawyers to do their work more effectively and efficiently, and they make information more readily accessible to lawyers and non-lawyers alike. Ideally, they also help everyone gain a better understanding of the law and how our legal system operates, but non-lawyers should proceed with caution when relying on online legal resources.

For over thirty years Cacace, Tusch & Santagata has been providing quality legal counsel. Whether you want to discuss an urgent legal issue or prepare for the future, contact our team today.

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