So what is VLaw™? It is a collection of proprietary systems and processes designed to enable people to access legal services over the World Wide Web. While only in the first stage of development, VLaw™ already has a broad array of components, including:
- Video-over-internet delivery of certain services
- Direct-link video with refuge for protection orders
- Web-based portal for social services
- Scan-to-email functionality for refuges to alert firm of urgent cases
- JEMIMA™ integrated practice management software (phase one)
- Quality control systems, policies and procedures
These components have been designed with the concept of a holistic, wrap-around service for clients: meeting their needs, not forcing the traditional ways of operating a law firm on them. Whilst innovative in a very traditional industry, VLaw™ will bring advantages to the profession as a whole. It has the potential to bring competitive advantages to law firms along with a number of wider benefits to external organisations and society, including:
- Increased access to justice – particularly in areas that are not well served by legal aid providers
- Savings in legal aid budgets due to efficiencies at the point of delivery
- Reduction in the economic cost of people taking time off work to visit with their lawyer
- Significant potential for lowered costs to run refuges (or other social services) as support workers will no longer need to accompany clients to a law firm
- Decreased threat-risk within the firm as JEMIMA™ uses a case management tracking system to ensure nothing falls between the gaps
- Opportunities for B2B and Private-NGO relationships to develop
This is merely the first stage of development for VLaw™. Future stages will see greater levels of access granted to clients to the firm’s database, meaning they will be able to access their own documents and collaboratively work on them with legal staff; an app that assists clients to keep tabs on appointments and Court dates, as well as negotiate and communicate in a safe way with the other party; full integration of JEMIMA with smart business equipment, and; enhanced networks of lawyers who could be employed on a full- or part-time basis from anywhere in New Zealand.
VLaw™ will be a benchmark for new ways of delivering legal services in the 21st Century. Because of this we have a responsibility to ensure it is developed carefully, taking into account both the opportunities and threats potential new technologies offer.
We particularly wish to thank Spark Canterbury Hub, Ricoh and P&L Ltd for their technical support, along with our social service partners who have contributed much to the development of VLaw™.
Find out more about our ongoing innovations by clicking here.