‘Legal chat’ connects public to lawyers in real time
In an Australian first, the Legal Services Commission of SA (LSC) has introduced a website chat window allowing members of the public to engage in online conversations with a Commission lawyer.
Last financial year, the LSC’s legal aid hotline received more than 80,000 phone calls. LEGAL CHAT is a digital initiative that aims to cater for the high public demand for legal aid.
“The digital meteorite has landed and technology is now reshaping the legal profession,” said Ms Gabrielle Canny, the director of the LSC. “That digital transformation must extend to the delivery of free information.”
Ms Canny said that during a pilot of the chat option, the commission was surprised to discover that many people calling from open-plan offices preferred to discreetly chat online rather than make a phone call.
“They don’t want to be overheard by their colleagues when seeking information on a legal matter,” she said.
“Anecdotally, we’ve also found that those under 30 are often more comfortable with an online dialogue rather than a telephone call,” she added. “The LEGAL CHAT written format is also preferred by some people with particular communication challenges.”
People using the free chat option to ask questions about a broad range of matters including neighbourhood fencing, divorce proceedings, contract problems, spent convictions and gaining access to medical records.
LEGAL CHAT is useful when clients need to be send a link to an online legal resource, according to the LSC.
The LSC said that South Australians without an internet connection can use the connections in metropolitan and country libraries, or can call on 1300 366 424.