An online lawyer provides legal advice, review of legal documents, and other legal services in an online environment. In some cases, an online lawyer may operate his own website or work through a website operated by his law firm. Alternatively, she may work through a third-party website that provides online legal advice or legal document preparation services. These lawyers may sometimes offer in-person services to clients obtained through their online legal service website.
Many people do not have a family or personal attorney to whom they can turn with legal questions. For this reason, some companies now offer online legal services through which lay people can ask questions and receive answers from credentialed attorneys. In many cases, these websites are operated by companies that contract with attorneys to answer the questions. The better-quality online legal service sites verify the credentials of any online lawyer who works with them, including their education, licensing, and disciplinary status with their bar association or government agency responsible for the licensing of attorneys.
Online legal question sites have different methods of operation, but typically allow users to post questions that lawyers can answer. In some cases, the answers are provided for free by lawyers who can include their name and contact information in their public answer. This type of online lawyer service provides lawyers with an opportunity to market themselves online and to supply individuals in need of advice with legal guidance. Other online legal services require users to pay for answers that are then provided by lawyers with whom the service has a contract. The lawyers can make money from answering these questions, and in return the users may get more comprehensive legal advice than they would get from a free site.
In some cases, a layperson may have to handle a legal matter on her own because she cannot afford lawyer fees. Online legal document companies offer assistance to these people by helping them in choosing and completing legal forms. Those who use these sites typically fill out an extensive questionnaire that allows the system to select and provide appropriate legal forms. Some of these legal document providers retain attorneys who can review the documents to ensure that they are complete and to warn clients about any potential problems they may have with their case.
Another type of online lawyer service involves a hybrid of online document preparation and actual, live legal representation. Some lawyers offer an online service whereby a client can complete the necessary legal forms for an uncomplicated case, such as an uncontested divorce. The forms may then be forwarded to a sponsoring attorney who reviews them and then meets the client at the courthouse so that the client does not have to represent himself in front of a judge. This system can save the client money by reducing the amount of time the lawyer has to spend on counseling the client and preparing his case.