What an attorney thinks about Legal Zoom – Part I

It is a loaded question: asking a practicing attorney what he thinks about a service which reduces the need for attorneys.  However, I want to weigh in and you might be surprised at some of my thoughts.  

Legal Zoom is one of several services that allows people to form corporations and make Wills for a very low price, all online.  As part of the work I do for people, I bring corporations into existence and assist people in setting up Wills.  

Legal Zoom is good because it forced attorneys to consider what we provide that has actual value.

There was a time when actually creating the documents that are Wills and that form corporations was closer to “magic.”  When word processing was limited to a chosen few individuals and businesses that could use computers.  When there were no websites that provided information, connected people and allowed online transactions.  When word processing and access to materials was at a premium, the market supported charging for those items.

Those days have passed and most people can process their own documents and access the Internet from the comfort of the couch.While the times changed, much of the legal profession did not.  We (or many of us) kept operating in an market that had long since been altered.  There was little value in actually typing the document – a million forms were available online.  There was almost no value in knowing a process that was open to everyone (such as filing documents with the secretary of state online).  We were left selling services 1975 style in the 2000s.  There was a response from the market:  Legal Zoom and similar companies.

What did Legal Zoom get right?  It charged the correct price for the technical act of completing form documents.  It guarantees the documents are legal and for the low, low price of $$$ you can have a Will or form a corporation while you are at Starbucks.  In the process, Legal Zoom and similar sites actually helped attorneys and consumers of legal services.

Tomorrow, I will discuss the downside of Legal Zoom and related services.


Posted by Shawn Roberts

On this blog, I write about and try to answer practical Oklahoma legal questions. My focus and most experience is in estate planning and business issues including Oklahoma non-compete law. I make a living as an attorney in the law firm I founded, Shawn J. Roberts, P.C. in Oklahoma City. I live in Edmond with my wife Amy and my two children, Sam (19) and David (11). We live precisely in the path of where the "wind comes sweeping down the plains."


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