Staying connected with the world was a challenge in the past. But not anymore, all thanks to the internet!
Almost 50% of the world population is online, and more are pouring in every day. People usually spend their time online watching YouTube videos, movies, playing online games, listening to audio song and books, shopping, etc. Staying online has become the latest trend among people of all age groups.
Not just individuals but big firms and the world’s biggest companies are online now. These companies are giving up the traditional approach of brick and mortar and are bringing their business to a platform that is accessible to billions of people.
Still a small segment of businesses are holding on to the traditional, tried & tested methods of running outlets, and are keeping a safe distance from the internet. The reason behind this is either they serve the local market, or they wish to maintain their exclusivity.
But far from such traditional industries, legal industry falls in the groups that are gladly accepting technological innovations and are utilizing technology to its full potential.
What is Online Legal Services?
We all know that lawyers are much-needed professionals in every business industry for some of the other reason. Lawyers deal with significant, sensitive and often multifaceted events. Without a lawyer, it’s difficult to manage contracts or file lawsuits. With the evolving technologies, now businesses, individuals, and law firms can opt for online legal services as well. Don’t be surprised by this fact!
There are many online legal sites like Legal Zoom, Rocket Lawyer, US legal, etc. You just have to fill an online form, pay fees (which is considerably low), and wait for the documents to drop in your email.
What legal services these providers offer?
- Business-centric services
- Document review and management
- LLC filings
- Copyright and patent filings
It’s indeed quicker, efficient and cheaper than engaging a lawyer, but is it a better choice? That’s what everyone wants to spot.
Let’s understand the advantages and disadvantages of these services:
1. Advanced legal service providers:
In the past fifteen years, legal services have arrived the Internet epoch. With the establishment of LegalZoom in 2001- an advanced legal firm, the landscape of the legal services was utterly transformed. After that, the leading competitor of LegalZoom- RocketLaywer came into existence in 2008. However, both the advanced firms use analogous models to serve three different services, which include:
- Provide document generators for numerous reasons- Wills, entity formation, etc.
- Provide limited consultation services and connect customers with certified attorneys.
- Publish informative articles based on the pros and cons of LLCs and corporations, etc.
In the second scenario, both the service providers differ a bit. LegalZoom offers a subscription model, in which, you’ll be connected with a lawyer to get consultation on various matters for a particular timeframe.
Whereas RocketLawyer offers “on call” attorneys to provide you consultation any time, for a set amount. Even LegalZoom offers on-call service, but it connects users with “specialists” rather than “attorneys”.
These services has overlapped the traditional legal services because of the cost factor. It is cheap and efficient. To complete your LLC business formation process with LegalZoom, comprising filing fees, you just have to pay $149, and their subscription model starts with $31.25 per month.
More so, both the service providers offer information on legal documents and advice on personal legal issue as well. We can say that entrepreneurs or startups can benefit themselves from these services as they can highly save on cost. Same goes for legal firms, law firms those occupied with heaps of unstructured documents can get the work streamlined with these services.
Well, according to experts, using online legal services is a bad idea. Filling a simple online form will never satisfy a client’s needs as every single person’s situation differs.
In case, if you have a business that targets a small market segment, you cannot render market-specific insights with the help of these advanced providers. They are only able to provide a national discernment. For instance:
- Typically, when an entrepreneur plan to form a LLC business they will establish in their state and every state has a different law, where LegalZoom fails to serve as it is not available for the maximum location.
- Both the service providers disown all liability halting from the use of their documents. In case, if you use their generate documents, for which the provision is unenforceable you cannot blame them.
- Accuracy is the main con of using online legal services, you will find many reviews related to this issue stating the documents was not updated according to the change in the law, and a lot more.
Tip: The real key is human communication, which is missing on these legal sites. Face to face interaction with a lawyer will help you get rid of any situation as they connect emotionally with their clients to understand the core reason of the legal issue. More so, lawyers cannot serve their clients appropriately as accuracy is the main concern when it comes to legal documents.
2. Emergence of online legal resource:
Many smart law firms who serve startups have retorted this bandwagon of online services by creating their own platforms, providing right information and enabling startups to build their business efficiently.
One of these service providers is Cooley GO that concentrates in advocating startups. Cooley GO offers innumerable resources including articles, written by Cooley lawyers on issues, spotlighting entrepreneurs and document generators. Any business owner can read articles to answer the questions like “what entity best suits you”, and “what factors to consider when allocating equity” and a lot more.
With document generator option, entrepreneurs are enabled to enter their details into a form and generate documents such as a full suite of documents vital for incorporation, employment documents, etc.
These kinds of websites are useful for entrepreneurs, contrasting LegalZoom and RocketLawyer, because these websites bespoke the need and issues of small businesses, giving the right solution as per their area of expertise.
However, LegalZoom and RockeLawyer cover an array of disputes, providing a less industry-specific solution and in fact, both the service providers came into existence to offer personal services rather than business.
Despite the advantage of Cooley GO, the major drawback is- it only provides resources for entrepreneurs and their legal concerns. So, what about other legal issues? There are countless more aspects where individual founders may need advice and they may don’t find it on Cooley GO.
Furthermore, these service providers don’t offer personalized services and may not give you any local advice. And the documents generators recommend you to consult a lawyer, and no guarantee of accuracy is presented. In Cooley GO, you cannot talk with a lawyer or specialist like other two service providers. This website is not meant for law firms as they have acquired knowledge related to law.
3. Traditional counseling:
These online service providers are doing a great job and continually changing the legal landscape, enabling entrepreneurs and law firms to save more on cost, but still, there is no replacement for counsel. Many lawyers take help of online legal service providers to get rid of tasks like document drafting, generating, or reviewing. In all situations, the judgment and expertise counsel can help you get through disputes, which makes it inevitable for entrepreneurs to hire counsel.
What are the situations when you need a lawyer?
- When you need advice on the specialized area of law such as tax or immigration issue- the lawyer make sure the case is handled appropriately.
- While negotiating for an agreement or certain terms, you need a lawyer to advocate on your behalf as they asses the terms accurately with the current market situation. Even law firms should hire attorney for document management as hurting client’s expectation can be dangerous.
- For protecting your intellectual property whether for a long or a short-term, hiring a lawyer is advisable to stay on top of legal issues.
- If you want to connect with financers, incubators or other resources of the community lawyers can help you reach them more easily.
- In case, if you are in a situation where you have to attend judgment call, hiring a counsel is highly essential.
In the end, it completely on your business needs. If you want the legal things to be accomplished on your behalf, online legal services are not a viable choice. However, if you are a knowledgeable business owner with all the legal aspects, then online legal services might prove to be obliging for you.