Are you in need of a lawyer to help with your disability claim? Are you wondering whether you should hire a law firm online or meet with someone locally?
Once you’ve decided to hire a lawyer, you’ll need to find the best fit for you — and to find the best fit, you’ll need to narrow down your options.
Maybe the best disability lawyer in your town is a 45-minute commute both ways; maybe the best disability lawyer in the country is available at the click of a button. Maybe your ideal lawyer is a mix: you’d like to meet in-person to sign documents but prefer to receive case updates over the phone.
In this article, as part of our Ultimate Guide to Disability Lawyers in Ontario, I compare the two opposite ends of the spectrum:
Hiring a lawyer or firm locally versus hiring an online lawyer or firm.
Regular Legal Service Model
This is the legal service model that everyone is familiar with: you sit across the desk from a lawyer in a room lined with bookshelves; you sign paper documents with ink; you drive home when your appointment ends.
You might like the regular service model better if you are someone who…
- Prefers to meet in person to get a better sense of the lawyer you’ll be working with.
There’s a lot that face-to-face communication and body language tells you about a person that you could miss out on if you’re dealing with your lawyers online. If you value this type of contact to establish a good working relationship, you should make sure to hire a lawyer that you can physically meet up with.
- Struggles with technology; doesn’t use or own the technology required.
If you don’t have an email account, a computer to use, or a reliable internet connection, you’ll obviously need to make a choice that makes more sense for your own situation.
- Wants to keep legal business and home life separate (or, as separate as possible).
The lawyer’s office can be an intimidating and stressful place to spend time. It’s totally understandable if you want to keep that energy separate from your life at home, and physically stepping in and out of a building might help your brain make that distinction.
- Just prefers the old-fashioned way.
Hey, there’s no harm in that! Being such an important decision, sometimes you have to go with your gut and do what feels right for you. There’s no use stepping out of your comfort zone and go through the stress of adjusting on top of everything you’re already dealing with.
Online Legal Service Model
An online legal service model is a newer, higher-tech option: you sit on your couch and fill out a form on a website to receive a legal consultation; you sign documents with software and pixels; your lawyer travels for your hearing and this is the first time the two of you have been in the same room.
You might like the online service model better if you are someone who…
- Physically struggles to leave the house.
This is especially relevant for disability claims like the ones we handle here at Resolute. Many disabilities make it difficult or impossible to leave the home regularly. Some clients deal with anxiety and/or depression that further hinder their adventures out of the home.
- Doesn’t want to leave the house.
You might not want to schedule appointments with a lawyer and factor in travel time between all the other things you have going on; you might just prefer to do it all from the comfort of your own home.
- Lives far from an office, or travel is inconvenient.
If you live in a small town, you could be driving for hours to get to your closest lawyer. If you live in a big city, your lawyer might be downtown or across the city — you’ll be getting stuck in traffic one way or another. If you choose to hire an online law firm, travelling is as avoidable as it is inconvenient.
- Likes to keep records, have things written down and/or recorded for reference (emails, calls, etc).
With online law firms, your case information and communications are typically pretty accessible for you. No need to call up the lawyer to clarify details of what they said the other day or which form you need to sign. All of this is available to you.
- Needs help from a family member or friend to communicate or handle your case.
An online legal model makes it simpler for everyone involved in your case to stay involved. Being able to review the case and complete tasks remotely may be easier than coordinating schedules, especially when there are more people in the mix.
Feel free to scroll past this section if you don’t like numbers or graphs, but I think this is pretty interesting.
According to Clio’s 2018 Legal Trends Report:
“Client perceptions of technology are changing. Those who have experienced a legal issue in the past 2 years—who are more familiar with modern practices and newer technologies—show more openness to working with virtual lawyers, working with lawyers remotely, and using tools such as artificial intelligence and chatbots to handle their legal issues.
Those who prefer not to hire lawyers are even more open to these alternative formats, suggesting that there are those who may be looking for a different type of legal experience entirely.”
These next 2 graphs show client preferences between face-to-face meetings and phone calls in different situations. (They also show lawyers’ answers of what they think their clients prefer — with as much as 63% difference in some cases. Wow!)
“We can see that lawyers often miss the mark on understanding how their clients want to communicate.
Clients want to speak with lawyers in person when learning about the legal aspects of a case (55%), telling their lawyer the details of a matter (70%), and signing, viewing, sharing, or delivering documents (64%).
While 43% of lawyers recognize that clients want to handle documents in person, only 3% expect clients to tell them the facts of their matter in person and 2% expect to discuss the legal aspects of the case in person.”
“Clients have high expectations for communicating by phone when making appointments (59%), getting quick questions answered (46%), and getting status updates on a case (37%).
These are also areas where email is a strong preference (15%, 29%, and 35% respectively).”
Although these service models have their strengths and weaknesses, it’s important to note that many law firms are somewhere in between the two extremes. Realistically, even if you hire a lawyer that is local and easy for you to access, there will be some communications that take place on the phone, through email, or on a client portal.
Resolute Legal is a disability law firm that sits nearly all the way on the far-online side of the spectrum. If you’re interested in hiring a law firm that practices an online service model, feel free to schedule a free consultation to ask about your situation or call us toll-free at 888-732-0470 to ask any questions you might have.