Lawyers leading the way in the litigation revolution in Britain

Shireen Irani, founder of iProbono and Simon Harper of Lawyers on Demand

Shireen Irani, founder of iProbono, and Simon Harper of Lawyers on Demand

On the Financial Times site — behind a paywall — we found this welcome surprise in a video clip of the paper’s celebration last October of the tenth anniversary of its Innovative Lawyers report.

The joint winners of the FT Innovative Lawyers Award were Shireen Irani, founder of iProbono, ‘a platform that allows lawyers and law students to give their skills to community organizations,’ and Simon Harper of Lawyers on Demand.

Gatekeepers, at the centre of many a conversation about post-Gutenberg publishing, are viewed differently in this revolution. The iProbono leader says:

The idea is that as lawyers we are gatekeepers to justice and should be using our skills as much as possible to change things in society — like Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi.

Lowering the barrier to legal representation in Britain has won room in minds at the top comparable to the attention being paid to affordable medicine in the U.S.. David Cameron announced in November that iProbono was the latest winner of the Big Society Award.

The other FT prizewinner, Simon Harper, described his organisation as

… a platform that allows lawyers to choose how they want to work.

The Lawyers on Demand web site explains:

Originally launched in 2007, LOD is the original alternative legal service, born out of changes in the way people worked. Under huge cost pressures, users of legal services were keen to find a way to make their budgets stretch further, without sacrificing the quality of the expertise that they had access to. Simultaneously, many lawyers were looking for greater flexibility and autonomy without compromising quality of work or career satisfaction. At the same time, technology was making it easier to connect without always physically being in the same place.

From this, LOD emerged. The idea was to pair talented, freelance lawyers with clients looking for an alternative resource and for LOD to provide the technology, support and know-how needed to make the service work. It began as a pilot in 2007 with eight great lawyers working with in-house clients on a secondment style basis.

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