Community Legal Centres in the Digital Era: The Use of Digital Technologies in Queensland Community Legal Centres
Digital technologies are revolutionising the delivery of legal services within Australia. Challenged by innovative technologies, products and processes, the legal profession has been forced to confront their technologically disrupted future and adapt to the new technological age, as both providers and clients become progressively more reliant on increasingly sophisticated digital technology. One sector that stands to reap the benefits of digital disruption is free legal service providers, such as Community Legal Centres (CLCs), whose services benefit from the extended outreach, accessibility and efficiency that digital technologies provide. As institutions that are dedicated to ensuring that vulnerable client groups have access to justice, CLCs must be cautious not to adopt digital technologies without due thought and, consequently, potentially alienate vulnerable clients. In this new technological era, it is now more crucial than ever for CLCs to ensure that clients who may lack access to technology, are digitally illiterate, or prefer face-to-face interactions, are catered for within the CLC sector.
This paper addresses the use of technology by Queensland CLCs by drawing on data collected from semi-structured, qualitative interviews with 10 employees from eight different CLCs. The article asserts that Queensland CLCs preferred to adopt digital technologies that assisted with their organisational needs over client-oriented services, attempting to strike the delicate balance between technological convenience and technological inaccessibility.