Should Online Legal Referral Services be Regulated?

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About This Course

In many ways we are becoming more and more dependent on our digital devices for both business and personal endeavors, Yet in other ways the business environment has not really changed - businesses are still trying to reach as broad a potential market as possible and counterbalancing potential regulatory and consumer protection issues are still being raised by their products.

In the legal arena, on-line attorney referral services have become an attractive way for attorneys to generate new business, while serving as a simple and cost effective way for the public to have their legal needs met --if the public is properly protected. Indeed, some referral services have recently run into problems, especially with regard to violating the attorney ethical rules.

Join us for an important discussion of the issues associated with the use of on-line legal referral services. The program will bring together all interested parties, including representatives from such services, to understand how the referral services work; whether they are improving access to justice, especially for the poor and middle class; the ethical implications of the referral service models and their impact on the core values of the legal profession. We will explore whether regulation is necessary to protect consumers in the legal services commercial marketplace or whether the attorney ethics rules need to be modified to reflect the realities of the new digital frontier.

The program will consist of three panels, each followed by a question and answer session:

  • Panel 1: The Online Legal Referral Industry: How it Developed; How it Works; Is it Improving Access to Justice?
  • Panel 2: Ethical Implications of On-line Legal Referral Services
  • Panel 3: Looking Forward: Do Consumers Need Protection, and if so Who Should Play a Role? Do the Attorney Ethics Rules Need to be Changed? What are the Next Steps and Where do we go From Here?

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