The legal landscape

Divorce Finance Toolkit

Errr.... the legal landscape

I have looked into my legal crystal ball before, attempting to guess the direction of the legal services market.  Big changes are afoot and clients (should I say, consumers, now) may find themselves between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea.  The Devil is the Government’s determination to ditch legal aid for most family law cases, and the Deep Blue Sea is the Legal Services Act 2009, which shakes up the traditional practices of law and will allow non-lawyers to offer legal services.

Like most people, my mood changes from day to day.  If I was feeling a little down I might say the twin impact of these changes could be likened to the Government picking up the legal services market by its heels, giving it a good old slap on the arse, throwing it onto the deck, sticking the boot in several times, standing back and then positively encouraging a couple of passing corporate spivs to bend down and pick its pockets.

If I was feeling more upbeat, I might look for the good things that can emerge in a period of transition, even if that transition is quite a violent one and initiated with malice aforethought by the present Government. So, with my positive hat on I note with interest a relatively new website called Intelligent Divorce.  The whole premise is to allow clients (consumers) direct access to quality legal advice so that a legal opinion upon the likely financial settlement can be obtained at an early stage and, hopefully, avoid the pain and costs of litigation.  I particularly like the fact that a couple can use the service jointly which will, of course, greatly increase the prospect of agreement and settlement.

Although the costs of the service may, at first blush, appear expensive to someone who has been running around getting free half-hour interviews with local solicitors, I would just repeat three words already used above: “quality legal advice”.  Such advice does not come cheaply but the clever use of technology, allowing the service users to populate the information forms used to obtain the advice, cuts down the costs sigificantly.  Compared to full-blown litigation, the quoted costs for Intelligent Divorce are something of a bargain.

As the legal services market continues to fragment, there will be opportunities for clients to effect some costs savings by shopping around, in the virtual, online world as well as the real one.  And perhaps combining the services of a number of different providers: for example,  an online divorce petition combined with elements of self-help and then some face-to-face legal advice if the going gets sticky.  There will be room for solutions like Intelligent Divorce.

Disclaimer: I know the founders of Intelligent Divorce on a professional level.  I therefore know them to be excellent family lawyers.  However, I have no personal financial interest in their offering and will not benefit in any way from readers of my blog using the services of Intelligent Divorce.

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