Why Choose an In-Person Law Firm
Everything seems to be available on the internet these days, including legal services. With cheap options available to prepare documents yourself with standardized forms, using an online lawyer appears to be a good option to save money and receive the services you need. But as they say, appearances can be deceiving.
WHAT YOU REALLY GET WITH AN ONLINE LEGAL SERVICE
Online legal services, such as LegalZoom, are tempting to use because they are inexpensive and seem to have everything you need to manage basic legal tasks, such as creating a will or forming a business. However, there are several reasons to avoid using an online legal service, which includes the following:
- Lack of Reliable Information. The legal information provided on these online legal companies is general rather than specific, and comes with the uncomfortable phrase stating that the information is not guaranteed to be correct, complete or up-to-date. In other words, use these sites at your own risk.
- A One-Size-Doesn’t-Fit-All Solution. These sites provide free or cheap fill-in-the-blank forms that you complete accompanied by a suggestion that they are just as effective as the ones created by an in-person attorney. However, a suggestion that something might be as effective is very different than stating that something is, in fact, just as effective. Everyone’s legal needs are unique and rarely can be addressed through a standardized form.
- No “Peace of Mind”. Through site-wide claims and unverified testimonials, online legal businesses claim to deliver “peace of mind,” but how valid is this claim when they can’t even assure you that the advice they are providing is correct.
- You are Required to be the Legal Expert. In part, these sites require you to serve as your own attorney. Whether you are incorporating a business or structuring a will, there are many options available and some are better suited to your needs than others. Unless you have a legal background, how can you select the best structure for your unique requirements? The truth is, you can’t and these sites won’t address those needs.
- You Pay to Speak with an Attorney that They Choose. Through these sites, you do have the option to speak with an attorney, though you must pay first and hope that the attorney you speak to with can address your needs. There is no guarantee that the person you speak with is familiar with the laws in your state and there is no liability insurance to protect you if they are wrong. Also, most of these sites have a reputation for providing poor customer service.
The bottom line is that many people end up spending more time and money with an in-person attorney to fix the problems created by using standardized forms purchased from an online service. With some documents, such as wills, trusts and powers of attorney, the problems created by using doc-in-a-box resources may be discovered too late to be corrected, and become an expensive lesson about the risks of using online legal services.
BENEFITS OF WORKING WITH AN IN-PERSON ATTORNEY
When you choose to work with an in-person attorney there is an opportunity to meet and discuss your legal needs and determine if this lawyer is the right one for you. Additional benefits include the following:
- Knowledge of the Law. The attorney you select understands the laws that are relevant to your needs and will advise you accordingly. Working together, you will receive the legal advice and services needed to address your goals. With an online legal service, you receive only a cursory overview of general legal concepts that you must somehow apply to your situation and hope that you’ve made the right choices.
- Specific to Your Situation. Everyone’s legal needs and goals are different and almost never fit neatly into a standardized form. Working with an in-person attorney assures that your life planning documents and other documents best represent your interests and goals.
- Establish a Relationship. As your life changes, your business grows, or new legal needs arise, working with an in-person attorney allows you to establish a relationship with that lawyer. Over time, he or she will better understand your changing needs based on legal history and can provide the best guidance going forward.
- Professional Liability Insurance. Lawyers carry liability insurance to protect their clients in the unlikely event that they’ve made a mistake. With online legal services, you have no protection from their errors and you will pay out of pocket to address them.
At Life Counsel and Planning, we provide experienced legal services individualized to each of our client’s needs and goals. Our practice is focused primarily on the structure of wills and trust, probate, and powers of attorney and other life planning needs. Whether you need to create a will or want to assure that your financial and health choices are followed, we will provide personalized attention to your legal matters. Contact us for a free consultation either online or by calling (904) 638-2345.