by Mark Abernethy
First lawyers could store documents in the cloud and then they could use enterprise applications served from a cloud service. Now Online Lawyers NZ has put a law firm in the cloud – an idea whose time has come, says its founder John Shingleton.
“Having been the Managing Partner of a mid-sized law firm for several years, I could see that there were ways of offering a high quality, cloud-based service that would provide better value for money for clients,” Shingleton said.
After 20 years of commercial law, the Christchurch-based commercial lawyer has created New Zealand’s first web-based law firm, and is challenging the way lawyers have traditionally worked.
“We believe this is the first time an online legal service has been established in New Zealand without the behind-the-scenes costs of a traditional law firm.”
Online Lawyers NZ features competitive, fixed-prices for services, regular online posts about legal issues, and transparency for clients about the work being done for them.
Shingleton said he knew from experience that the market wanted lawyers to fully embrace digital technology.
“At the moment many people have no idea what they will be charged, after they have engaged a lawyer. The market has been surprisingly tolerant for a long time but the tide is turning.
“The way we are working will mean that quality legal services will be more affordable, particularly for small to medium sized businesses, who are regularly charged at the same rate as large organisations.”
Shingleton will provide services, along with a range of specialist lawyers called upon depending on the client’s needs.
Online Lawyers NZ will cover practice specialties in employment, health and safety, business mergers and acquisitions, and shareholding issues.
The firm will also share free, general information about legal issues and back it up with individualised advice if required, said Shingleton.
“We will do business anywhere in New Zealand as almost everything will be able to be done online. The advantages of working like this are enormous, especially for people working in remote locations or cities like Auckland, where you might have to travel long distances to see someone.”