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Published On: Wed, Dec 19th, 2018

Improving access to legal services in Nigeria

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By Tony Okeke

Over the years, the way that legal services can be accessed has changed quite drastically. In the early day, all businesses were listed in the Yellow pages. People had to flip through these pages to find listings of lawyers in their community and would then call to schedule a meeting with the office. While this was useful and made it easier to find local services and select some provider, probably based on proximity, they were cumbersome and sometimes difficult to navigate. It’s no secret that as tile progresses, the yellow pages, though free were full of confusing posters and were more of a collection of advertisements than anything else.
While they were very useful at the time, and most likely the only tenable solution then. When the internet emerged as the information super highway, Yellow pages were overtaken by online directories. We can now access industry-specific listings to find and engage providers. Law directories were among the prominent ones. This directory makes it easy to find legal listings and to locate professionals to work with whenever you needed legal assistance. As the internet emerged, many of these directories could be found online. As lawyers and other legal service providers list their services online, it became a lot easier to find providers for your specific need. Still, though, it was a case of hoping that the expert you contacted would be suitable to your needs.
Today, we have access to other, seemingly more modern options such as marketplaces. These platforms help to connect people with legal service providers and apparently makes it easier to find professionals to help with your need. Unlike the directories, those in need of legal assistance search out the kind of help that they need and contact these platforms to connect them with the right expert. The legal industry, which has been slow to embrace emerging technologies, is not left behind in this area. There are now online legal marketplaces and it’s in the increase. This seems to be paving the way for even easier legal service hiring and more help and assistance with moving forward and finding flexible law services tailored to your needs.
As technology surges on, more and more websites appear online and access to goods and professional services improves. Arguably, it is now easier than before to find a reliable and flexible freelance attorney. Like Amazon or ebay, this solution for finding affordable legal services has come to prominence in recent years. They are all geared towards making it easier for you to find the help that you need within the often confusing and complex legal industry today. The hugely impressive nature of the content based on these websites are expected to make it easy for you to find the help that you need, but do they really? Although this is presented and promoted as the best solution online today, it barely gives the websites or the organization a powerful opportunity to secure competitive leverage in the sector rather than create a balance in the pursuit for affordable access. It is therefore doubtful if these legal marketplaces could be deemed an answer to improved access to legal services in the context of today’s technology and society.
It still looks like anyone in need of quality legal services will likely find it quite hard to find a bespoke assistance if they are privy to limited funds. When you are low on budget, it’s important to look for affordable, stress-free forms of access to legal aid and assistance. In some these platforms, you may have to consult with various providers who may each claim to be able to handle your matter or at least, be able to assist you. However, when you are not sure about what kind of help you need, even tools like this might not be suitable to your needs. Similarly, their costs are not apparent and in the same manner the fees may not be disclosed to you. Subsequently, there’s always the fear of surprises and hidden charges.
There must be a better solution for picking up legal providers to avoid wasting time with lawyers who might not be good enough for your needs or may come from a different school of expertise. Apparently, there are models whereby you can provide information about your requirements beforehand Instead of having to sit through expensive (in both cost and in time) meetings with a lawyer to determine suitability. In other words, you instantly make it clear what you need, when, and probably how much you can afford for the projects so that every parties position is clear ahead of time just like you have in the popular marketplaces where goods are traded. This will require posting of your projects freely, and then allow for you to receive proposals back from experts who might be suitable to take on your case.
This alternative provides what could pass as a fair and level playing field for legal service providers and consumers of their service. Such a platform should provide access to high-quality legal providers on demand. is likely the closest it gets to this solution. Lexdot provides useful tools to help find freelance attorneys and other flexible law service providers and promises to take the stress out of your day. This seems to be the way forward to finding flexible law services tailored to your needs.

Tony Okeke is a Public Affairs Analyst.

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