“Copyright” and “probate” were two of the most popular Internet searches in 2011.
That’s according to Google’s annual “Zeitgeist Report,” which lists the topics and personalities that generate the most search hits each year.
Queries about copyright and probate matters ranked right up there with Adele and Charlie Sheen.
So what does this mean for lawyers?
First, in an information age where content rules, people want to know when they can freely use the words and images of others – and how they can legally protect their own work.
Issues of privacy, defamation, fair use and infringement are burning up message boards and chat rooms globally. The rules are changing by the nanosecond. The public is willing – even eager – to pay for good advice.
This opens up an incredible opportunity for intellectual property lawyers. As technology evolves, so does the possibility of creating whole new areas of practice.
The interest in probate law suggests a different trend.
Consumers are being told that Wills, Health Care Directives and Trust Documents are simple documents that can be easily generated online. A quick download and your estate plan is complete. Credit cards and PayPal make payment a snap.
But are clients being well served? Not likely. Sure, in some instances a generic Will might be just fine. But there is no substitute for expert advice, no computer that can analyze a client’s situation with empathy, and no microchip that can listen actively and respond with a range of options.
The challenge, then, for probate lawyers is to communicate the value of having a living, breathing attorney create a customized estate plan – and then to demonstrate that value by working with the client to do just that.
The future is bright, and getting brighter by the click.
To view the complete “Google Zeitgesit Report, go to http://www.googlezeitgeist.com/en.