Today’s users are becoming more and more demanding when talking about delivery of wide range of services. The Internet and Mobile technologies result in radical transformation of connecting demand and supply with the support of the technology and data analytics. Sharing economy model’s ultimate goal is to connect customers to service providers in innovative ways. By making services easier to access, and at times less expensive, companies in sharing economy are exploring and even creating new supply chains, marketing techniques, and model of distribution while giving the customers wider choice. This is so called “just in time and just enough model”, where customers preferer to access services only when they are needed, and to access them from willing providers who have the ability to meet the need when they have capacity to do so. But can such model be successful also in legal industry?
Would it not be great, if we could pool together lawyers from different fields of expertise and seekers of legal advice into one convenient digital platform which will serve as a matchmaker between supply and demand side. Here, the legal services or let’s call it transactions would be performed through the digital platform. Even though there exists certain restrictions when providing legal services with aim to protect customers, information asymmetry is still present. To many times, customers cannot easily judge the substantive quality of the lawyer and its appropriateness for his or hers matter. The customers often do not have, time and energy to do a proper analysis of services. Good past experience may not always lead to conclusion that particular service provider is the best fit. Therefore, data analytics based on previous cases may break information asymmetry and facilitate the decision on selecting the right lawyer at a right price.
But what would be the benefits for lawyers? Why would a lawyer want to use such platform and provide services on sharing economy platform? The fact is that legal services are like any other services on the market, and this is why legal professionals are existentially depended on selling their services to the customers. The competition among lawyers is extremely high, this is why a lawyer from time to time handle cases which they are not expert of. With the platform’s distribution of cases based on lawyers preferences, legal experts could solve more of matters they truly like, whenever the want and when they want. Speaking differently, platform economy does not replace existing players but rather empowers them by presenting a new channel of connecting to potential clients.
Unlike other platform economy settings, the legal profession has a strong infrastructure already in place to ensure that the provision of legal services through digital platform complies with critical ethical principles that govern the practice of law, while providing system for regulating and policing lawyers misconduct (eg. entry barriers, codes of conduct, insurance mechanisms, disciplinary procedures, court protection, etc.). As a result of all the protective mechanism, legal services may be more appropriate for sharing economy then other industries, which are still struggling to build safeguards to protect customers. And last but no least, platform economy may present good opportunity to improve access to justice and general legal services to improve people lives.
What do you think? Will we see more of sharing economy in legal services in near future? Feel free to post your thoughts and comments.
Author: Marcel Hajd