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Consumer Reports: Legal Websites May Lead to Unintended Results

Logo for Consumer Reports, which published a report about legal websites

The September 2012 issue of Consumer Reports magazine includes an article that examines legal websites LegalZoom, Nolo and Rocket Lawyer (Legal DIY websites are no match for a pro). The article’s conclusions and recommendations:

  • “Using any of the three services is generally better than drafting the documents yourself without legal training or not having them at all. But unless your needs are simple…none of the will-writing products is likely to entirely meet your needs. And in some cases, the other documents aren?t specific enough or contain language that could lead to ‘an unintended result’….”
  • “The sites offer basic legal advice that might help save you money spent on a lawyer. If you use them for document prep, at minimum get all needed signatures to preserve your rights and prevent disputes….”
  • “But many consumers are better off consulting a lawyer. The websites let you search for one and provide such information as education, background, and licenses…. We recommend checking with your state bar association for any disciplinary actions.”

As concerns finding lawyers online, a resource not among the legal websites mentioned by Consumer Reports is Avvo, which has a comprehensive database of lawyers in all states, frequently including information about qualifications and practice areas.

Dana H. Shultz, Attorney at Law  +1 510 547-0545  dana [at] danashultz [dot] com
This blog does not provide legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you need legal advice, please contact a lawyer directly.

Why (not) Incorporate Online?

There are countless online services – including LegalZoom, MyCorporation and The Company Corporation – that will help you form a corporation. The benefits are clear: A minimal investment of time and money.

But, based on the experiences of some of my clients before I began representing them, those benefits may come at a cost: Corporate documents that do not properly meet the entrepreneur’s needs, plus a lack of information about legal requirements to maintain the corporation on an ongoing basis. (Please see this blog’s Hall of Shame page.)

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