South Australia launches 24/7 digital legal service

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A 24/7 digital legal service has been launched in South Australia to help its residents receive free legal aid outside business hours.

“24Legal” of the Legal Services Commission of South Australia (LSC SA) gives users access to legal information relating to their quandaries, and covers over 60 legal areas, according to a statement from the commission.

“Legal problems are often like plumbing problems: if something can go wrong, it will go wrong – and it’ll probably happen on a weekend,” said Legal Services Commission Director Gabrielle Canny.

The platform was developed with seed funding from the Law Foundation of SA. During its testing phase, the commission found that the most common enquiries related to family law issues, intervention orders, mortgage repayments, traffic matters, fencing disputes and wills.

Canny said more Australians are seeking legal information outside of business hours, and they want digital tools to help them access it. “Legal need doesn’t stop when law firms close their doors at the end of the working day,” she said.

The service came as a result of a “happy accident” in the commission’s website. Because of a technical glitch one night, the team couldn’t remove the icon for its Legal Chat webchat service that allows people to communicate online with our lawyers during business hours. “Even though that webchat service wasn’t available in the evening, large numbers of users continued to click the icon in an effort to get tailored information from our lawyers,” said Canny.

While the service doesn’t replace one-on-one legal advice, Canny likened it to a cup of instant coffee. “It’s not fancy but it’s very quick, easy and convenient. …  It can help a person, at any hour, to swiftly clarify their legal issue and consider their options.”

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