What You Need to Know about Online Legal Services

Online legal service providers such as Legal Zoom, USLegal, Rocket Lawyer, and Law Depot offer quick, convenient, and low-priced forms to customers who choose to represent themselves and to create their own legal form documents. While these internet services have these positive attributes, here are three reasons to consider hiring a law firm instead.

1.      Online legal services are not the practice of law.

Service providers, such as Legal Zoom, are online document preparers. In Legal Zoom’s disclaimer, it warns that it doesn’t offer legal advice, isn’t a law firm, and the employees of Legal Zoom are not acting as your attorney. It further states that it’s not a substitute for attorney advice and cannot provide legal advice or recommendations to a consumer about possible legal rights, remedies, defenses, options, selections of forms, or strategies. Given these major distinctions, online legal services aren’t governed by the N.C. State Bar or professional rules which hold attorneys to a high standard.

2.      Online forms are generic.

Forms are a good starting point, not a good ending point. A form is useful to outline key provisions in a document, but every client has a unique situation that should be explored in detail to ensure that the form meets the client’s needs. Online legal services are limited to responding to preprogrammed questions. These providers review your form for completeness, spelling and grammar, and consistency of words in the document. They don’t review your document for legal sufficiency, draw legal conclusions, or apply the law to your specific facts. If an online service provider’s form fails to account for an issue or exposes you to liability, you won’t have trusted representation by an attorney familiar with your matter. An attorney will anticipate potential issues that a standard, fit-all form may miss.

3.      Online legal services don’t establish a relationship between you and an attorney.

Online providers may use attorneys to assist with document preparation, but these attorneys are not your attorney. Therefore, no attorney-client relationship is created by your use of the site. Hiring an attorney is the start of a relationship that has the potential to continue over the course of your life for your various legal needs. Through that relationship, your attorney learns your core values and priorities. When an attorney-client relationship is created, you benefit from attorney-client privilege, guaranteed confidentiality, and protection by the work-product doctrine.

While online services provide a convenient “DIY” tool, those customers are deprived of the protections afforded to clients of practicing attorneys, the legal attention that may reveal more complex issues, and the attorney-client relationship.

Contact Weaver, Bennett & Bland, P.A. at (704) 844-1400.  The information contained in this article is general in nature and not to be taken as legal advice, nor to establish an attorney-client relationship between the reader and the law firm of Weaver, Bennett & Bland, P.A.

Weaver, Bennett & Bland, P.A. serves clients in North Carolina and South Carolina. Located in the town of Matthews between Mecklenburg and Union Counties in North Carolina since 1982, we proudly provide legal services throughout Charlotte, Matthews, Mint Hill, Stallings, Indian Trail, Monroe, Marvin, Wesley Chapel, Weddington, Waxhaw, and other surrounding communities in the Greater Charlotte area. Our clients range from national corporations and major banking institutions to individuals and local companies.