The short answer? No. But it can help you find them! Lawyers often forget that regular people don’t think in terms of “personal injury attorney,” “family law attorney,” and the like. All they think is, “I have a problem. You’re an attorney. Fix it for me.” Clients often don’t know the right questions to ask at the offset, and legal apps can help on that front.
Many apps on the market today provide streamlined services, as noted by Steve Biddle in Prague Post. Potential clients turn to their phones in droves when looking for legal assistance; LegalShield stated that approximately 70% of people look in the app store or online first before using traditional means, like Avvo or even a simple Google search for “attorneys near me.”
So far, the answer has been elaborate chatbots, such as “DoNotPay,” which uses artificial intelligence to handle simple issues like parking tickets. Just by looking at the reviews, however, one can see that this app potentially allows a practitioner to get around state licensing requirements. Basically, there is the threat of non-lawyers practicing law, which is quite the ethical no-no. If you don’t see who’s on the other end of the phone, how can you know who’s actually handling your case?
Many legal issues are routine and rote, requiring boilerplate responses that can be fielded by a robot. You don’t find any personalized care this way, which — when dealing with a significant problem — can be a downside.
Let’s Be Real
Some websites cut out the bot entirely and allow real, living, breathing attorneys to answer questions — think Avvo’s forums, or Ask a Lawyer, which is exactly what it says. Have a problem? Ask a lawyer. It’s hard to get into personal issues online, though, especially when everyone else in the world can read it.
Another service pointed out by Prague Post is BernieSez, which allows you to upload pictures of legal paperwork and have a licensed attorney review them. Once you’ve done that, you are given a number of lawyers from which you can choose for representation. (Ethical considerations mean that no single attorney can be recommended, though an offering can be provided.) This is for things like speeding tickets, parking tickets, DUIs, and more.
The best service showcased by Prague Post was Legal Services Link, which helps you find attorneys by practice area or geographical region. The reason? It uses an algorithm similar to Tinder.
The bottom line is that apps are helpful but by no means the last stop in your legal journey. If anything, it’s the first stop. Make sure to have an actual lawyer representing you, rather than a robot. You can’t bring your iPhone to court, after all.