The Do-It-Yourself Lawyer and Online Legal Services

I was always frustrated in school when teachers and professors would forbid students from using the Internet as a resource when doing school work. The Internet has become too powerful of a tool to forbid it carte blanche.

Every day I am beyond appreciative of how technology and the Internet have transformed every aspect of our lives. On the professional side, the management of my law practice involves significant use of available technologies to make my practice more efficient. From a personal perspective, using the Internet to locate hard-to-find car parts, or pulling up a Wikipedia article to settle an argument at lunch has become a common occurrence for me.

On the other hand, several websites have popped-up which allow an individual to obtain certain legal services at a very low cost. While I can certainly appreciate the business opportunity that the sites are capitalizing on, I frequently warn potential clients of the pitfalls that may await them when using these sites.

At the risk of sounding like a curmudgeon, I find that the common cliché “you get what you pay for” is appropriate in these instances.  Real lawyering involves more than just filling out forms. It is about resolving issues that some people may not realize even exist. It is about establishing a relationship with your clients and handling their matters in a mutually-beneficial matter. In many instances, the cost to fix the damage that was done far exceeds the cost of doing it right the first time. Many of my clients have realized that trying to be a DIY lawyer is much more complicated than they originally thought.  In fact, most of these sites containing a disclaimer that they are not a substitute for a real attorney.

While I use the Internet on a daily basis to make my personal and professional lives easier, I would recommend that you don’t use it to diagnose and cure your medical problems. You should also avoid it to handle your legal matters.