• Matthew Crist

AUTOMATED LAWYERS: A RECIPE FOR DISASTER

Updated: May 12

In my opinion, the various attempted automated legal services presently available to the public appear to be nothing but a disaster in waiting. I have no doubt many are going to see me, a lawyer, opposing automated legal services because it will harm me if legal services are automated. But the exact opposite is true. If I could automate some of what I do, it would vastly improve my efficiency! Furthermore, from my evaluation of what is presently available, lawyers are not in danger of being replaced anytime soon.


I have always been extremely interested in all new technology and I follow new innovations closely. Advances in the legal profession are no exception.


I believe most people are aware of the idiom, "you get what you pay for." With that in mind, when some practitioners are charging $1,500 for a complete Will package, how can places like legal zoom charge $69? In my opinion, the legal zoom type Will is probably not worth the paper it is printed on.


In my experience, if all beneficiaries to a decedent's estate agree, it doesn't matter what the decedent's Will says - everyone can play along and there are no disputes. Legal documents like Wills, partnership agreements, employment contracts, etc., are not designed for the good times, they're designed to control respective rights and duties in the bad times. It takes a great deal of time and effort to learn how things go wrong and what disputes arise - like I indicated in a previous blog, that could be as simple as a choice of conjunction.


Places like legal zoom have not been around very long - I would guess that most people willing to make a legal zoom Will have not yet passed. I suspect, and fear, in 15 to 20 years, we're going to learn whether legal zoom Wills are worth the paper they're printed on.


Legal zoom also provides connections between prospective clients and attorneys and that portion of its services are probably very good and valuable. However, www.legalzoom.com's disclaimer speaks volumes:


Disclaimer: Communications between you and LegalZoom are protected by our Privacy Policy but not by the attorney-client privilege or as work product. LegalZoom provides access to independent attorneys and self-help services at your specific direction. We are not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. We cannot provide any kind of advice, explanation, opinion, or recommendation about possible legal rights, remedies, defenses, options, selection of forms or strategies. Your access to the website is subject to our Terms of Use.

Legal zoom then links its users to a 14 page, densely worded contract that you enter into by using their services. This is common for other automated lawyers; they disclaim any hint of legal competency and then say they're for information, self-help, or entertainment purposes only. I plan on examining the terms of use of several of these types of services in future blogs.


In short, stay tuned to this blog for future examinations of the evolution, and probable implosion, of automated legal services.


If you disagree with me or have any comments about your experience with these types of self-help legal services, please feel free to reach out to me on Facebook.



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Matthew A. Crist, PLLC

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