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Say a bank wants to buy or sell securities across 20 countries, and needs to know the rules and pitfalls in each jurisdiction. The old way: Call a lawyer, answer some questions, wait for a response, and then write a big check. The new way: Call up Blue Flag in a Web browser, answer some questions, read the response, and then write a small check. Far across the Atlantic, an Englishman named Paul Nelson is preaching that sometimes the best way to practice law is to do away with the lawyers. Hey, wait a minute, Nelson is a lawyer himself — at London-based Linklaters. He’s also the driving force behind Blue Flag, a line of computerized products that, in certain situations, can replicate a live lawyer. Think of it as self-service law, he says. But think of it, too, as a way to leverage technology and knowledge to better serve existing clients, to win new clients, and to unleash revenue in a prosperous but ever-cost-conscious world. Think of it, Nelson says, as the future of the law office.

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