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Logging on to a new virtual law service.

Stratford-upon-Avon-based law practice Woolley & Co is spearheading the e-commerce revolution in the legal profession by launching what is believed to be the first "virtual" law practice in Warwickshire.

The practice, which specialises in divorce law, is to open two new "virtual" offices in Solihull and Worcester. Divorce lawyers Ms Deborah Fowler, based in Worcester, and Ms Sandra Hickson, based in Balsall Common, joined the team this year.

Founding lawyer Mr Andrew Woolley said the advent of the Internet means there is no longer any inherent advantage to having a High Street location. He believes this is the route that all small to medium-sized High Street law practices will have to go down within the next five years.

"On-line law is widely predicted to become the dominant source of legal services over the next couple of decades," he said. "Divorce law lends itself particularly well to the 'virtual' concept because it is heavily paper-based and because of the proliferation in home computer owners."

All lawyers will be networked via a common telecommunications platform. Correspondence can be dictated straight into the computer using a digital recorder and securely e-mailed via a sound file to the company's secretarial support service.

"It's like networked computers in an office, but with a lot more cabling!" said Mr Woolley.

"This pioneering way of working will directly benefit clients by improving the speed, quality, competitiveness and convenience of the service they receive.

"Clients will almost always be able to speak directly to their own lawyer. We will guarantee a same day response to phone calls and response to letters within 48 hours. And lower overheads will be reflected in lower than average fees. What we aim to offer is a high standard of service, when, where and how the client wants it."

The practice will also be offering a complete 'DIY' divorce package via the Internet. The service includes downloadable divorce forms, advice on how to complete them and one hour's telephone support for pounds 99.

"This service caters for the growing number of people who have access to Internet facilities and feel capable of completing all the basic paperwork themselves," he said.
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jan 18, 2000
Words:356
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