I did something I never thought I would do.  Against my better judgment, I typed www.Shpoonkle.com into my browser to see what all the fuss was about.  In case you have not heard of this latest entry in the race to fully mechanize the practice of law, Shpoonkle is a site where people post questions or fact patterns and lawyers bid on the opportunity to represent them.  Sweet, huh.  You may now auction away your dignity and self respect in a fully digitalized fashion.   

My first reaction is that I don’t see how anybody – the attorneys who bid or the website owners – can be making any money off of this.  There don’t seem to be many questions posted.  The ones that are posted seem to run along these lines:

How long do I have to sue for medical malpractice?

Lawyer needed to defend shoplifting case in Puscaloosa, Florida. 

My ex-husband left our son with me when he went on the run from the DEA.  Can I sue him for child support?

How does anyone answer any of these questions other than to say, “I need more information.”  And maybe there is a chat room behind a paywall where more detailed information is being exchanged, but I saw no signs of it.  Looks like one off questions and answers to me.  Not that there’s anything inherently wrong with answering people’s legal questions for free.  But you can do that through your local Legal Aid office and keep your self-respect intact. 

Market forces are what they are, and maybe something like this is inevitable.  Maybe it will even help to make legal services more available and more affordable.  I hope so.   I am too young to call myself old-fashioned, I think, but I still believe there’s some merit to hiring a lawyer based on his or her reputation and experience.

Caesar was much-loved by his people until he crowned himself an emperor for life.  Then he was assassinated, and all of Rome was glad.  Until they got Nero.