By Norma Meyer
Published Aug 17, 2011 12:00 AM
Perry Mason never could've envisioned this. Anyone stuck in a legal jam can now instantly watch layperson-friendly, online law videos that may help save their worried hide. And at $1.99 apiece, the jurisprudence primers are as cheap as Two-Buck Chuck.
DigitalAttorney.com — co-founded by A. Mina Tran J.D. '96 and touted as the first U.S. website of its kind — offers 29 legal videos by 18 straight-talking seasoned barristers covering everything from divorce to "Ins and Outs of Traffic Tickets" to slip-and-falls. With an average length of eight minutes, they can enlighten you over a coffee break.
"This is such a new way to get legal information," Tran says. "We focused on questions that attorneys wished clients would ask and those that clients asked most often."
For example, on the "DUI" video, an expert lawyer advises drivers to invoke their right to refuse a field sobriety test, which includes challenges like balancing on one leg (these are "sucker plays"). "Criminal Defense Part 1" admonishes that if inquisitive cops show up at your door, "the first thing out of your mouth" should be to request a lawyer. "Auto Accidents" advises you to document witnesses at a collision scene.
Since the videos' launching in January, Tran says the top purchases, in descending order, have been the traffic ticket video, "Bankruptcy Types" and "Wrongful Termination of Employment." The tutorials go into a registrant's account and can be viewed repeatedly.
By next year, the ambitious legal eagle plans to have 100 videos online — including one on police brutality — and to expand with attorneys in other states. "We're hoping that if people have a question about the law, they look to us first." Tran, an immigration attorney who came to this country as a six-year-old Vietnam refugee (she does the "Marital Visa" and "Fiancé Visa" videos), hatched the website idea after continually answering the same questions from clients in her Orange County practice, Palmer & Tran. She realized consumers need reliable legal info — and no, she laughs, TV's "Law & Order" doesn't count.