A recent article by our Editor-At-Large, Robert Yetman, entitled ‘Law School The Ultimate Con Game’ caught my attention. Bob and I had an interesting discussion last week about his article. We both commented about how much the legal profession has changed and how rarely (for better or worse) many people even use lawyers these days. The idea for this article was hatched as we started to count the ways that people are avoiding traditional visits to lawyers' offices in what we would call the ‘new world of legal services.’
Legal Document Providers
Need to draft a simple Will, form an LLC or a corporation, or construct a basic lease agreement? Online firms such as Legal Zoom and Legal Forms can provide you with what you need for a fraction of what a lawyer would charge. What’s more, you can get your document in a day or two and won’t have to wait several days for an office appointment with your attorney. Legal Zoom will assist you to prepare a basic will for just $69, set up a corporation for $99 (plus state fees), or file for a trademark for $169 (plus govt filing fees).
I would not attempt to make the argument that these online services are as good as sitting down in person with an attorney, but they represent a reasonable option for those that lack the time or money to work with an attorney in a traditional manner.
Pre-Paid Legal and Hyatt Legal Services are the two leaders in this little known niche of so-called legal insurance. Pre-Paid Legal, based in Ada Oklahoma, has plans starting as low as $16 monthly that include will preparation, unlimited phone consultations with attorneys on any legal issue, and will even represent you in court if you get a traffic ticket. The plan also includes representation in the event of an IRS audit. I have been a member of Pre Paid Legal for more than 10 years and can tell you that they are a top quality operation. For a numbers of years we were even licensed agents for their legal plan and offered it through our financial planning division. Although I am no longer associated with the company in any professional capacity, I would highly recommend the coverage.
Most areas of the country have a legal aid type of organization that provides free legal help (pro bono) to lower income individuals. The assistance can range from advice on employment law issues, to landlord/tenant disputes, to matters of child custody. To locate your local legal aid (or equivalent), contact your county bar association.
Do-It-Yourself Legal Representation
When I was going through my own personal financial collapse a few years ago, there was not always enough money to hire an attorney. One resource that was invaluable to me was Nolo Press. They are perhaps the largest online source of do-it-yourself legal guidebooks available anywhere. I have found their books to be especially useful with practical advice and even the actual forms needed to make legal filings. As an example, over the last three to four years we have heard from a large number of individuals that have decided to handle their own foreclosure or loan modification matter without an attorney. Just as in my own case, they simply did not have the funds to hire an attorney.
Watch This Video For A Good Lesson On How Not To Act In Court
Although representing yourself in a court proceeding can be scary, more and more people are doing it. Many courts are now set up with special procedures and accommodations for so called pro se’ (self represented) individuals. Small claims court was once the only venue that litigants battled without lawyers. Municipal courts (larger claims) and even Federal courts are experiencing an increasing number of individuals representing themselves.
Shopping Around For A Lawyer
Due to the current oversupply of lawyers, you may be able to get your legal matter handled for pennies on the dollar by simply doing some comparison price shopping. As Robert Yetman uncovered in his fascinating article, there are plenty of hungry lawyers out there looking for work.
Helping you make the most of God’s money!