This Note will address how encouraging nonlawyer Internet programs to engage in limited areas frequently considered the “practice of law” will increase the ability of vulnerable groups, especially victims of domestic violence, to receive crucial—and potentially lifesaving—legal assistance.
Part I will outline the rise of Internet legal service providers (ILSPs), who have innovated software programs that help clients fill out and file a wide assortment of legal documents, as well as the negative response these services have received from state bar associations and the wider legal community. Part II will discuss why a different method of providing legal assistance is crucial to helping victims of domestic violence, who often find themselves in tough financial situations and in need of an inconspicuous means of receiving legal help. Part III will address how ILSPs are a foray into the future of attorney–client relations in an attempt to encourage the legal community to accept this novel technology rather than dismantle it. Specifically, clients often turn to Internet search engines to solve their legal issues, and these providers offer attorneys an ability to streamline the client referral process. Finally, Part IV will examine common arguments against the support and proliferation of ILSPs. In particular, Part IV will address how fears regarding the unregulated nature of these providers and the potential harm they may cause could be mitigated by easily adopting regulations. Part IV also provides Washington with examples of other states that have loosened their position on heavily regulating the “practice of law,” without major consumer detriment, establishing that domestic-violence victims will not be harmed by an Internet-based alternative to traditional attorney advice.
Sabrina Marquez, Do It Yourself Legal Services? Domestic Violence Victims May Depend on It, 44 SEATTLE U. L. REV. 1211 (2021).