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Online Legal Consultation

Recently I begin to provide the legal advice as specialist of American Law, Copyrights and other laws via online legal service called Just Answer that was originated in San Francisco, the United States. I got an opportunity after the member of the Just Answer operation team contacted me and asked me to register as specialist. He reasoned to ask me to be a member because only few specialist can advice the legal issues of American Laws in Japanese. After a few days passed, when I searched this service, I found some people claimed “this is fraud site”, “I was charged though it seems to be free” or “I can’t cancel the subscription”. Thus, my first impression was that I should not participate. However, when I checked more details, I found this site did not say free and it was typical subscription service that the consumer has to take some process. Therefore, I replied to him “I can’t be a specialist of American Law until I pass the Cal Bar, but so far, I can be a specialist as Gyosei Shoshi” and began the service little by little. From February this year, since I passed the Cal Bar, I started the service as a specialist of American Law as I promised. The compensation of this service is unbelievably low, around JPY1,000 till 2,000 which is like Pro Bono, thus I can use only my spare time. But still continue this service because I believe it is benefit me to search and update my knowledge of American Laws, like immigration, corporation and employment laws. Here is my impression and opinion through providing the services.

1. Different Roles – Gyousei Shoshi provides precautionary measures, Lawyer solves the troubles

The law prohibits Gyosei Shoshi to involve the disputes. Thus, I’ve been providing the legal advice to avoid the conflict, and drafting the contracts, legal documents aiming for the mutual agreement until I got the lawyer’s license. Now, through the checking consumer’s queries of this site, around 20% consumer asks “what am I supposed to do- I committed a crime” – although this system declares the contents will be publicly disclosed and the consumer takes some risk even though he/she hides its identification. In that case, sense of justice does not work. When I answer based on the law which is apparently contrary of this consumers’ intent, I only get low evaluation from the consumer. Since the consumer wants to avoid the punishment and criminal record, he/she does not listen to the solution based on the right answer. Consequently, I can’t get the compensation because of the Just Answer system – to get the money, I get more than 3 stars of 5 stars, and if I get 1 or 2 stars, I get zero amount, seriously). So I concluded that this would be the waste of time and effort (plus sincere kindness) to answer the query from the person committed wrongdoing. Even I try to advise within the limitation that Just Answer rules prohibit the specialist will create the client-lawyer relationships and introduce another lawyer- customers do not care. Through such experiences, I notice that the no specialist pick such cases because picking up these cases are not benefit at all for the specialists = no compensation and the customer’s evaluation tends to be lower and this lower grade make their reputation down- meaning no merit for me. Although, when the customer appointed the specialist, this person has a priority to pick the case at first. On the contrary, the customer does not appoint the specialist, any specialist can freely pick up the query and answer the question. The best way to maintain the good evaluation is not picking up criminal matters and picking up the query seeking the solutions.

Therefore, I follow this rule although it seems unkind. Through such experiences, I realized that the lawyers had heavy burden and may have so much stress when they consulted to the criminal suspects. I fully understand my friends’ lawyer said he did not take the criminal case because he is always twisted around the suspects’ little finger since typically such suspect insists the false allegation pretending they are true.

2. Merit and demerit of online consultation

I experienced frequently pro bono consultation as legal consultant at Shinjuku Ward Office or branch when I was affiliated with Gyosei Shoshi Shinjuku Branch, so I got how to consult & treat the customers. However, online consultation is a bit different. The customers, face to face consultation, was coming to the place knowing the event in advance and expecting the consultations. On the contrary, the online customers ask the query online because online site has easiness and feels merit that they can ask the legal advice through mobile phone or PC immediately after they want to seek the answers. Therefore, I sometimes wonder why the customer did not try to search the answer by itself although it can easily find it,  it takes so much time to dig into the query and so much communication required until I find the answers he/she wants. Although the Just Answer system said it is one query, one answer, some customer consecutively asks the question after I answer to the first 1 query, and that causes tremendous time as I imagined. Also, some customer say too much arrogant replies since (I assume) they do not see my face. Therefore, the key to provide the consultation for a long time, most important thing may be the clear cut conclusion and does not care even receiving the unwelcome reply.  I try to answer the question regarding the copyright, corporation, employment matter or in advance consultation of visa since they really want to avoid the trouble or simply seek the clear and right answers.

3. Claimer, Teasing and the persons who can’t understand the main point.

I read the reason why the founder of Just Answer created this service because he thought it was so convenient to ask and get the answer from the professionals when his daughter’s condition became suddenly bad during the hospitals’ outside hours. Well, that is true if we can get the answer immediately after the urgent matter happens and get the solution via the internet right away. However, in fact, this system holds too few professionals to answer the query right after the customer raises the query (largely because the compensation for the professionals are too cheep as I assume and like me, involving this service feels pro bono and can’t prioritize this service). Moreover, there are chaos- some customer claims he/she can’t cancel the subscription without checking the terms & condition, the customer do not seek the answer, just want to tease, or the customer does not clearly make the point of the matter and we have no idea how to provide the right answer. I acknowledged that the person,  working at support center, tends to collapse the mental condition caused by the treating of these types of customers every day. I admire them, really, although I feels myself mentally tough since I was teased by other students whenever I moved to the new school because of my father’s job transfer or suffered power harassment when I got new job. I do not encounter such difficulty all days and mostly deal with on weekend.

This work makes me comfortable when the customer express appreciation or feel satisfy by, like completion of my mission. At the same time, I doubt this job is good for my mental condition since I sacrifice my spare time on weekday and weekend. Rather I should take a rest and free from the work stress. Will see what happens and do not know how long I will take this job.


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