New App Connects Criminal Lawyers
Many criminal lawyers in Canada’s biggest city face regular scheduling conflicts because of the city’s great size. Inevitably, many lawyers find themselves driving to a far-off suburb when they’re called by a client that’s been jailed overnight and has a bail hearing set to commence shortly, often all the way back downtown.

Many criminal lawyers in both Canada and the United States are faced with the constant struggle of trying to be in two places at once. For those that operate independently, or as part of a small firm, this issue is exacerbated by the lack of adequate “stand-ins.”

If this is the case, most criminal lawyers find themselves calling old school buddies to plead for them to be present in your stead. In some cases, criminal lawyers resort to compensating a junior lawyer or paralegal to attend hearings on their behalf.

Connecting Busy Law Professionals

These repeated ‘conflicts of interest’ motivated a small group of legal entrepreneurs to develop an app that effectively upgrades this informal logistical process to meet modern demands. The app is called StandIn Law, and it can be equated to the taxi app Uber, except that it’s been designed to specifically assist criminal lawyers.

The application is already being tested by a select number of lawyers in the Greater Toronto Area. Lawyers or paralegals that download the app agree to have their location tracked. If a lawyer or paralegal is near a particular courthouse, another lawyer can use the app to pinpoint their location and contact them directly through the app to request a ‘stand-in’ appearance.

Of course, sensitive court documents or relevant information must still be exchanged via phone or e-mail, but the app is equipped to automatically send payments via credit card, requesting a small transaction fee in addition to any charges that might be requested by the stand-in lawyer. The app also asks hiring lawyers to rate the performance of their ‘stand-in.’

Shifting Attitudes Towards Legal Tech

StandIn Law is just one of the more recent of a number of developments in the legal tech sector in Canada. The legal industry in Canada has traditionally been quite old-fashioned and unwilling to consider how technological developments might allow for more efficient service. In fact, most court files in Ontario are still retained in paper records and a few judges’ offices continue to send decisions via fax.

According to Andrew Johnston, the master’s student at Osgoode Hall law school who developed the idea for the app at a student competition last year while attending law school at Michigan State, “I think, more so than ever, people are starting to become more accustomed to doing more on their phones, and hopefully that comes over to the legal side as well.”

Using Johnston’s idea as a starting point, the app was actually developed by Tiny Hearts, which is a product of Ryerson University’s startup incubator program, Digital Media Zone. The app is strongly supported by Peter Carayiannis, a Toronto lawyer and Michigan State alumni known for launching the ‘no-frills’ law firm, Conduit Law.

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Posted by: DSR
Monday, June 1, 2015
Tag: Legal
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