One of the country's largest criminal defence firms is exploring how legal advice could be given to clients online.
Mike Rainford (pictured), head of business crime at north-west firm Burton Copeland, told the Gazette this week that the firm is in discussions with IT companies to see whether it would be possible to develop a method of offering online legal advice to defendants in less serious cases.
'We are only in the early stages, but we always want to keep abreast of technology and see how we can use it to provide a better service,' he said. 'Whether it will be feasible to deliver online advice in the areas of work we cover remains to be seen.'
He said the firm is picking up on ideas used by other professionals.
Rainford suggested that online services may not be appropriate or feasible for general crime such as assault and burglary, which require telephone or face-to-face advice, but might be appropriate for motoring offences.
Rainford also suggested that an online service could be used to deal with regulatory, health and safety and trading standards work. 'Initially, a basic online service may be a way forward for that type of work, but we will consider all options and see if we can move forward.'