With the concept of alternative business structures (ABS) featuring more in discussions at boardroom meetings of law firms and with law becoming generally more accessible, for instance with Quality Solicitors announcing the placement of a solicitor in WH Smith branches across the UK, it is worthwhile considering alternative web-based legal advice models. One such model is that of JustAnswer.com, where users get a chance to ask a lawyer legal questions but equally where solicitors can display their expert knowledge and gain a reputation as a specialist in a certain area while receiving some remuneration.
How JustAnswer Works for Law
JustAnswer utilises a user-friendly homepage, with users being able to type a question after one click of the mouse. The following features apply:-
• Questions are asked and received in real time, covering the following areas of law:-
o Financial: ask a lawyer about debt or bankruptcy;
o Family: ask a lawyer about divorce, custody, or child support;
o Traffic: ask a lawyer about an accident, ticket, or drink driving charge;
o Government: ask a lawyer about an immigration or tax problem;
o Disputes: ask a lawyer about a personal injury claim or defence
• When asking questions, I would always recommend that you state your jurisdiction and the most appropriate area of law.
• Expert answers are delivered from a live person who provides a bespoke answer;
• Answers can be given every day, at all hours; and
• Although it costs money for the advice given, the pricing is generally more affordable than legal advice received from a high-street law firm.
Thereafter users have the option of asking follow-up questions. Payments to an expert need only be approved when the user is completely satisfied.
The amount paid by the user is refundable and, if the legal question cannot be answered or if further more detailed work is required, such as representation or legal drafting, the lawyer can point the user in the right direction.
A Useful Service
While it is easy enough to ask a question to a lawyer and get a response, it is still important to question credibility and accountability issues. In this respect JustAnswer works on a similar basis to eBay with users being able to rate the advice received. Once a lawyer has answered a reasonable number of queries, a useful percentage score will be assigned to give the user a valuable indicator of the credibility of the lawyer.
While there are many US lawyers currently featured on the site, there are in fact several Scots lawyers already on the site with high percentage scores. My favourite name so far is “Brevitatis Causa”, although there is also Scots lawyer JGM who has a 99.5% rating from over 1,000 answers given. Perhaps we’ll see more Scottish lawyers joining this site in the coming months…