Today, anything can be found online. I can order my groceries online, buy books online, purchase a car online, contract babysitters, and find a date.
The most recent online fad rippling through the legal industry is online legal services. Almost every attorney has been approached and asked to “review” a legal form a client found online.
It is easy to understand why clients would prefer to find cheap online documents for a fraction of the cost of hiring an attorney. But should they? A short-term benefit analysis would compare an online form that can cost as little as $40 and an attorney that can cost $150 for the same service and pick the former.
As one legal expert put it, “Rarely can a canned document or form be sufficient and advisable” … in my experience there is almost always something special about the situation that requires the sophistication of an experienced lawyer.”
Consider the following:
You get what you pay for. One legal form cannot fit the wide scope of diversity that exists within all situations. Lawyers know the law, its complexities, its process and are the only ones who can guide you through and make sure your rights are protected. Flawed documents can be rejected (and on occasion are rejected).
Legal services websites affirm that they are no substitute for a licensed attorney. ‘Nuff said.
- Legal services website consumers have no legal recourse when something goes wrong. LegalZoom “makes no warranty” that their site or materials “will meet your requirements” or that results will “be accurate or reliable”. RocketLawyer says that its information, software, products and services “may include inaccuracies” and that “information and opinions received via the website should not be relied upon for personal, medical, legal or financial decisions.” While you can seek legal recourse against your attorney for malpractice, legal services like LegalZoom and Rocketlawyer do not carry malpractice insurance and don’t participate in Continuing Legal Education requirements. Indeed, if any attorney operated like one of the services, they would be disbarred.
- You may not get your day in court before a jury or get to participate in a class action as most if not all of these services have teeny tiny fine print that require you to waive your rights to court in favor of arbitration.
- The forms are overly simple.
How our Law Firm can help: Consulting a Business Law attorney is vital to help you understand what you need in your Operating Agreement and other formation documents. Give my office a call at (540) 721-6028 if you have questions about how we may assist you.
The article above is not intended as legal advice. We recommend you come to our offices for a proper legal consultation with our excellent attorneys to formulate a strategy which is suitable for your specific case.