UK software company Epoch has teamed up with ISP Freeserve to launch a Net-based public legal service.
Launched last month on the ISP's new legal channel, Freeserve Desktop Lawyer aims to attract both business and consumer users who chafe at the cost of hiring a lawyer.
"It is a complete online legal service and not just a piece of self-help software," said Grahame Cohen, managing director of Epoch.
The range is "from quality, interactive agreements drafted by top barristers to further assistance from quality legal staff at a call centre," he said.
"And then, if further attention is needed, there's help from the LawNet group of 1,500 solicitors from over 50 companies. The user gets a complete end-to-end service."
"Freeserve Desktop Lawyer will open up a latent market for legal product providers and the legal profession, as businesses and the public who previously felt anxious about purchasing legal services gain greater confidence," said Richard Cohen, legal director of Epoch.
Visitors to the site can download and assemble professionally drafted complex legal documents such as standard legal letters, employment agreements, property agreements, wills and intellectual property services, with more than 300 documents to be available by the end of the year.
Once the documents are downloaded, Epoch's Rapidocs Assembler technology enables them to be changed dynamically as users customise each document to their specific needs. All the customisation is done offline. Then the documents can be distributed to the relevant people in an organisation.
There are three levels of support to assist users in assembling the document: first, users can call the pre-sales support line manned by barristers from the 11 Stone Buildings practice, to advise on which document is needed.
Second, there is the option of buying up to one hour of telephone legal advice.
Third, final modification of the document is then referred to a solicitor from the LawNet group of legal firms.
A standard employment agreement costs #49, for instance, compared with up to #500 from a solicitor.
Epoch will launch its own site this week, at www.desktoplawyer.net.
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