Lawyer in a Box
Consumer Reports took a break from comparing washing machines and SUVs and subjected some of the do-it-yourself legal products to their testing and review. Using the products of LegalZoom, Nolo, Rocket Lawyer, and Quicken’s Willmaker Plus, the testers created a will, car bill of sale, a home lease, and a promissory note using those company’s directed worksheets or downloads. They then took it to three law professors in a blind test to compare the products. The ultimate conclusion was that all of the services were generally better than doing it totally by yourself, none of them could really take the place of an attorney. Some of the documents would not let you modify a document to fit your specific situation, even though legally it could be done. Others would allow too much leeway and allow a person to add items that could contradict other parts of the same document or have no legal effect at all.
Some things I do recommend that a potential client at least attempt to do before hiring me or another lawyer. For lawsuits for amounts under $5000 there is small claims court. The North Carolina Secretary of State has all the forms needed to form a simple limited liability corporation. Even minor car wrecks where the only issue is property damage to the car (no personal injury), I suggest the potential client try and handle themselves and only pay me if they feel that the matter has gotten too complex for them. However, the examples of the documents tested by Consumer Reports are things that I would not recommend a person handle without at least a consultation from an attorney. These types of legal documents may have unintended results, and at best, subject the document to a legal challenge in court, and at worst, could achieve a result contrary to what the person intended.
–Bradley A. Coxe is a practicing attorney in Wilmington, NC with Hodges & Coxe PC who specializes in Personal Injury, Medical Malpractice, Homeowner’s Associations, Contract and Real Estate disputes and all forms of Civil Litigation. Please contact him at (910) 772-1678.
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