In his post over at Legal Cheek, “Twitter Set To Drive ‘Free-Of-Charge Ferrari Through The Horse And Cart World Of Law’, i@n davison (trendily pronounced iatn”) forecasts a “Twitter legal advice experiment taking place today could prove a turning point for the way legal services are delivered”. Davison writes,
In a few hours, family lawyer Lisa Collins, of Colchester law firm Birkett Long Solicitors, will take to Twitter to offer free legal advice. The pioneering session, which takes place today between 12pm and 2pm, will cover conventional family law matters, plus issues faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
One question springs to mind: why pay for legal services when they can be provided for free on Twitter by lawyers like Collins who live in low cost areas of the country like Essex (where they can be sustained by their savings and practise law as a hobby)?
Well, the question is not “why pay for legal services when they can be provided for free on Twitter”?, but rather “who in their right mind would pay for free legal advice on Twitter?” There’s no such thing as a free lunch, when someone else has to pick up the tab.
Beyond this transparently naked and shameless marketing ploy, I suppose Lisa Collins (Twitter: @LisaCollinsBL and, hey, check out the cool hashtag: #BLQA!) overlooked the broader implications of creating multiple lawyer-client relationships by tweeting responses to the hoi polloi’s random legal questions from the Twittersphere. All it takes is one misdirected reply intended as a DM (Direct Message for you Twitter nOObs) and you’ve got the UK’s Solicitors Regulation Authority or the Bar Standards Board following you, in earnest.
Perish the thought that the pitfalls of blawging alone create a morass of professional and ethical issues for practising lawyers. Now we have a trend-setting, mavericky English lawyer that wants to throw caution to the wind in a social media platform bounded by a 140-character limit. What could go wrong?
Surprisingly, Davison, in-house counsel and budding legal futurist, doesn’t seem to mind and describes the idea of providing free legal advice on Twitter as both “chilling and exciting”:
As an in-house lawyer, I find the innovation being demonstrated by Collins, and others like her, both chilling and exciting. Going forward, lawyers at international corporate firms of the type that I instruct will surely follow the lead being taken by these frontier-pushers, potentially driving a free-of-charge Ferrari through the horse and cart world of law.
The ones who survive will be those who find a way of gaining a position behind the wheel of that Ferrari, or at the very least a place in the passenger seat.
The Ferrari metaphor is apt: