Online Legal Document Providers and the Public Interest: Using a Certification Approach to Balance Access to Justice and Public Protection

27 Pages Posted: 8 Apr 2019

Date Written: March 5, 2019

Abstract

The Internet and electronic communications have revolutionized how consumers obtain legal information and assistance. The availability of legal forms and services has developed at lightning speed and countless consumers are using these forms, rather than consulting attorneys. At the same time, many regulators of the legal profession appear to be frozen in time. Some take the position that the provision of interactive forms amounts to the unauthorized practice of law and others question arrangements that appear to involve the sharing of legal fees with non-lawyers. Even for those interested in regulating the provision of on-line services, one complication to doing so relates to the fact that the forms and services are provided around the world, rather than being limited to particular jurisdictions. This article examines the regulatory challenges and the manner in which a private governance approach using third-party certification can be used to improve access to legal services while advancing consumer protection.

Keywords: automated legal documentation, online legal service providers, third-party certification, private governance, regulation of the legal profession, access to legal services, legal information providers, consumer protection

JEL Classification: K10, K23, K40

Suggested Citation

Fortney, Susan Saab, Online Legal Document Providers and the Public Interest: Using a Certification Approach to Balance Access to Justice and Public Protection (March 5, 2019). Oklahoma Law Review, (symposium on Lawyering in the Age of Artificial Intelligence), Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3367196

Susan Saab Fortney (Contact Author)

Texas A&M University School of Law ( email )

1515 Commerce St.
Fort Worth, TX 76102
United States
817-212-3902 (Phone)

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