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Uberization of the Legal Profession

Advocacy, as an independent service of providing legal assistance to individuals and legal entities, in our legal system is a constitutional category, the organization and operation of which is regulated in detail by the Law in the Republic of Srpska. Like other areas of social life and work, the legal services market has been transformed substantially due to globalization and the emergence of new technologies.

The technological development process has led to the expansion of the phenomenon of entering into contracts for the sale of goods or the provision of various services electronically. E-commerce, that is, the exchange of goods and services, is primarily done through websites and mobile applications, through which different types of contracts are concluded. Historically, the development of e-commerce began primarily with the advent of merchandise-selling websites, and so Amazon was founded in 1994, and just a year later the E-bay platform emerged. Only later did well-known online service platforms emerge (Paypal - 1998, Booking - 1996, but only after it merged with Booking Online in 2000, did it become functional today, Airbnb - 2008, etc.). Today, if you want to travel to another city or country, it is almost inconceivable not to make a reservation (and payment) beforehand through websites such as Booking or Airbnb. In the United States, as well as in Western Europe, Uber's taxi service has been specifically developed. According to this company, the name was given a new appearance in the electronic market of goods and services, the so-called uberization, which is an operational model of business and transaction management using modern internet platforms, with maximum cost and time savings.

The key to the success of applications such as Airbnb or Uber lies in the trust that service users have in the system, and only then in the immediate service provider who provides their services through these Internet platforms. In other words, when you book accommodation through Airbnb, you are not doing it because you trust the person who owns and rents the accommodation, but because you believe that anyone who provides their services through Airbnb meets certain criteria and conditions.

The question is whether it is possible to expect similar changes in the market of lawyer services, ie whether in the future we are waiting for the so-called. uberization of the legal profession and the provision of legal services.

The previous assumption that had to be fulfilled in order to speak about the legal profession was to shift the focus of legal services from classic representation in court proceedings to legal consulting services, precisely in order to avoid possible disputes in business practice. Further development, driven by globalization and the need for a more favorable business environment, requires a degree of deregulation of the bar, in order to provide more flexible conditions for service delivery in this area. If at some point in the market a legal services application appeared on our market, based on a sharing economy and peer-to-peer basics, it would open the possibility to get services from the comfort and comfort of your own home from experts in various fields of law, paying the price for the services provided via the Internet, using electronic banking. The service would be available to the service user 24 hours a day, and due to increased competition, individuals, as well as small and medium-sized enterprises, would have easier access to the required legal services with less time and money. Also, a great advantage of such a service is the lower formality and the absence of the need to visit a lawyer to obtain legal advice.

Algorithms for finding an adequate expert to provide a service in a particular case would be based on the data entered into the application relating to the facts of the disputed legal issue, the area of ​​law to which the potential service relates, the satisfaction of previous users of the services, etc. This would ensure greater efficiency and transparency of the service provided, and the user could have an idea in advance of the price they would pay for the legal advice provided. This would force service providers to achieve maximum efficiency and productivity, with a constant commitment to refinement to maintain market competitiveness, which would ultimately benefit service users in terms of increased security and quality of service.

Large law firms and companies that keep pace with technological developments and deliver their services to the highest standards of professionalism and commitment to the client would soon be profiled as leaders on such platforms. However, more flexible regulation in this area would also lead to the emergence of so-called freelancer, ie. lawyers who are not employed by large firms and who provide legal advisory services at significantly lower fees.

While at first glance it would appear that the emergence of a freelancer in the law firm market would be a disadvantage for larger law firms and companies, it should also be borne in mind the potential benefits of these entities from the phenomenon of freelance providers through online platforms. The biggest advantage would certainly be the ability to hire freelancers as external consultants to work on large projects that require experts in a wide range of legal fields. If law firms do not have a specialist in their respective teams specialized in a particular area of law, they could hire freelancers on the basis of a certain type of work contract to compensate for this deficiency and allow the firm to participate in such projects.

That such market appearances are not a distant future is also evidenced by the new rules of the UK Bar Association, according to which, from November 2019, lawyers can provide legal advice as a freelancer, without the need to register an independent office or law firm.

Time will tell whether the solicitation of a lawyer in our market is possible and in what direction the legal services business is moving. All these changes are visionary and may never come to fruition, and the law firm retains its classic physiognomy. On the other hand, using and providing legal counseling services through online platforms for 10 or 20 years could be just as commonplace as we use Airbnb or Booking today.

**Translated by Google Translate**


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Igor Letica's picture

Igor Letica is a Junior Associate employed by the Law Firm SAJIC since 2018. Igor graduated from the University of Banja Luka School of Law in 2017.

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