Technology is an amazing thing. It gives us information at the push of a button that we could only previously get by scouring our local library. But with this technology is coming a new movement for people to handle their legal matters without the help of an attorney. Unfortunately, the problem with this is that you are handling a legal matter without the help of an attorney.
Case-in-point – Legalzoom. It appears that there is a class action pending in Missouri against Legalzoom for engaging in the unauthorized practice of law. Frankly, this doesn’t surprise me. Legalzoom is skating on thin ice, and there are a lot of attorneys out there that view Legalzoom as competition. I, for one, do not – and here is why.
Legalzoom’s business model is premised on the notion that preparing legal documents is nothing more than filling in some forms with your own personal information. It is so much more than that… If someone comes to me to handle their divorce, I’m not just filling in forms for them – I am helping them negotiate a settlement, advising them on their legal options, educating them on the law, drafting legal documents that are customized to their particular situation, representing them in court if the need arises (including all the preparation that comes with a court hearing), talking to their spouse or spouse’s attorney when conflict erupts, maintaining a level head when they are too emotional to think clearly, counseling them when they don’t know who else to talk to… and the list goes on and on.
I pride myself on building personal relationships with my clients and seeing them through some of the darkest days in their life – a divorce. Legalzoom simply can’t compete with me on that. And I won’t even discuss how many clients I have helped who tried to “do it themselves” and realized too late in the game that they didn’t know enough about the law, the courts, the judges, their spouses obnoxious attorney, that they just couldn’t do it themselves.
I often tell this story to clients who come to see me:
There were two barbershops across the street from one another. One shop had ten chairs and was always busy. The sign out front said – ‘Haircuts: 50 cents’. The other barber across the street had one chair, and an equally busy business. His sign? ‘We fix 50 cent haircuts for 75 cents’.