Free legal chat reaches major milestone

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The Legal Services Commission of South Australia has hit a major milestone with their free online chat service, launched back in October last year.

Australian first, Legal Chat, has now reached its 1,000th user.

Offering real time contact with lawyers, free of charge, the service has now advised 600 members of the public on civil matters, relating to matters like fencing disputes, landlord and tenancy disagreements and wills and estates.  Two-hundred matters have been advised upon by the service in relation to family law issues and 200 enquiries relating to criminal law matters, mainly traffic offences.

The service follows a huge interest in the Commission’s phone advisory service and a growing need for people in rural areas to access legal services quickly and easily.

“We did expect it to be quite popular because we have been seeing growing levels of demand for information about legal matters,” Gabrielle Canny, the Commission’s director told Australasian Lawyer.

“For instance, our telephone advice service handled more than 80,000 calls last year.

“People in country locations often have fewer options when it comes to seeking legal assistance and information.

“Legal Chat goes some way to rectifying that, and we understand it is becoming increasingly popular among people in country areas. At this stage, however, we don't have a breakdown available to us about the geographic locations of the first 1,000 users.”

Canny said that around 79 per cent of Legal Chat users preferred to get assistance online rather than by phone, in many cases this is because they are working in open plan offices and don’t want to be overheard by colleagues.

The service is expanding rapidly, and is currently taking 100 calls a week.

“We are training growing numbers of our lawyers to work on the Legal Chat service,” Canny said.