Jump to content
Ilinizas

Thoughts on DIY legal.

Recommended Posts

4 minutes ago, BlockedQuebecois said:

In the broad sense? Sure, no TSX40 company is doing an M&A deal without counsel. But you're really oversimplifying the relationship between corporations and their counsel to say that corporations understand the value of legal services. Corporations have spent a whole bunch of time and money trying to reduce their legal costs recently, and through a whole bunch of different methods (fixed fee arrangements, taking stuff in-house, aggressive negotiation with their counsel, etc). 

And part of that conflict / trend is that corporations and law firms have very different ideas about the value of legal services.

Sounds more nuanced than we need for a thread about legal zoom.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, lawstudent20202020 said:

Sounds more nuanced than we need for a thread about legal zoom.

I would disagree. Legalzoom is, at its heart, an extension of the idea that consumers of legal services want to limit the cost of those services. That same idea is driving corporations to become more cost-sensitive in their relationships with their counsel. 

It's a trend we're seeing across the industry, and it shouldn't be at all surprising that people are willing to sacrifice the small value they perceive from retaining a lawyer for significant cost savings. And for what it's worth, that can sometimes be a really small benefit. For a small business owner looking to incorporate, using Legalzoom may be (and likely will be) functionally just as good as using the local general practitioner in their small town. Sure, the documents may have errors or something may be drafted poorly, but the likelihood that that small error will be problematic for any given small business is incredibly small. 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 minutes ago, BlockedQuebecois said:

I would disagree. Legalzoom is, at its heart, an extension of the idea that consumers of legal services want to limit the cost of those services. That same idea is driving corporations to become more cost-sensitive in their relationships with their counsel. 

It's a trend we're seeing across the industry, and it shouldn't be at all surprising that people are willing to sacrifice the small value they perceive from retaining a lawyer for significant cost savings. And for what it's worth, that can sometimes be a really small benefit. For a small business owner looking to incorporate, using Legalzoom may be (and likely will be) functionally just as good as using the local general practitioner in their small town. Sure, the documents may have errors or something may be drafted poorly, but the likelihood that that small error will be problematic for any given small business is incredibly small. 

I'm going to disagree on those magnitude of those errors. I've seen small errors in wills lead to litigation far in excess of the value of the property.

Obviously there is a market for these as by all accounts legal zoom is a profitable business, but I can't help but wonder if the people that had success with legal zoom could have arrived at the same result without it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, BlockedQuebecois said:

In the broad sense? Sure, no TSX40 company is doing an M&A deal without counsel. But you're really oversimplifying the relationship between corporations and their counsel to say that corporations understand the value of legal services. Corporations have spent a whole bunch of time and money trying to reduce their legal costs recently, and through a whole bunch of different methods (fixed fee arrangements, taking stuff in-house, aggressive negotiation with their counsel, etc). 

And part of that conflict / trend is that corporations and law firms have very different ideas about the value of legal services. 

That has been happening for far more than a decade, and even at that, corporations still know the value of legal services. Don't kid yourself.

And this really isn't pertinent to the OP's topic.

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

8 hours ago, lawstudent20202020 said:

I'm going to disagree on those magnitude of those errors. I've seen small errors in wills lead to litigation far in excess of the value of the property.

 

Sure, anything is possible. But for any given individual that possibility is pretty small, and for any given individual for which that error happens use of a lawyer would only reduce the chance of that risk by X%. It’s not at all surprising that people are looking at those odds and deciding its worth the risk  

And with wills in particular, I don’t think there’s a large contingent of legal zoom users who would have gone to a lawyer for their wills if not for legal zoom. I think most legal zoom users just wouldn’t have a will, or would have drafted their own will using a different take home kit. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 minutes ago, BlockedQuebecois said:

But for any given individual that possibility is pretty small, and for any given individual for which that error happens use of a lawyer would only reduce the chance of that risk by X%

It has been my experience that the possibility is actually quite high and proper legal advice drastically reduces that chance, but I'd be willing to change my stance on that if I could actually see stats on this.

12 minutes ago, BlockedQuebecois said:

have drafted their own will using a different take home kit. 

This is kind of my point. I don't think legal zoom or other kits really add value because what the user gets from the kit they could have done without the diy kit fairly easily.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, lawstudent20202020 said:

It has been my experience that the possibility is actually quite high and proper legal advice drastically reduces that chance, but I'd be willing to change my stance on that if I could actually see stats on this.

We may just have different definitions of high, but I don't have any stats on this (if you do, please share). I'm just thinking through what the normal person's life looks like – it's not usually full of litigation surrounding their small business' constating documents. Wills may be more tricky, because wills are subject to a fair bit of litigation on a regular basis. 

2 minutes ago, lawstudent20202020 said:

This is kind of my point. I don't think legal zoom or other kits really add value because what the user gets from the kit they could have done without the diy kit fairly easily.

I think you're underestimating the value of having everything packaged into one place with explicit instructions. When I first moved out on my own, I loved cooking with these packages my local grocery store had. They had all the dried goods needed to make a soup, chili, etc, as well as a list of other ingredients (produce and meat) necessary to make the meal, and step by step instructions for cooking. There's absolutely no way that small package of pre-portioned ingredients was worth what I would pay for them, but I found it valuable because I was unfamiliar with cooking and this let me cook in an easy, step by step manner. Legal zoom is the pre-packaged ingredient kit of wills. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
20 minutes ago, BlockedQuebecois said:

Wills may be more tricky, because wills are subject to a fair bit of litigation on a regular basis. 

I was meaning wills specifically for that. Familys are terrible when someone dies.

21 minutes ago, BlockedQuebecois said:

think you're underestimating the value of having everything packaged into one place with explicit instructions

This kind of goes to an earlier point that maybe the instructions should be available directly from the government as opposed to a third party profiting off it.

But you are right, I should not under estimate the human desire to have things in the quickest easiest format.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, lawstudent20202020 said:

It has been my experience that the possibility is actually quite high and proper legal advice drastically reduces that chance, but I'd be willing to change my stance on that if I could actually see stats on this.

This is kind of my point. I don't think legal zoom or other kits really add value because what the user gets from the kit they could have done without the diy kit fairly easily.

 

Is it possible that your experience in a law firm has only exposed you to the times where things went wrong? Presumably people with effective DIY wills and incorporations aren’t later engaging the services of a lawyer. 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 12/23/2018 at 2:40 AM, lawstudent20202020 said:

I'm going to disagree on those magnitude of those errors. I've seen small errors in wills lead to litigation far in excess of the value of the property.

Obviously there is a market for these as by all accounts legal zoom is a profitable business, but I can't help but wonder if the people that had success with legal zoom could have arrived at the same result without it.

I am going to suggest that if someone is litigating a will and spending far in excess of the value of the property to do so, that the small error in the will was inconsequential. 

The person who spends more on litigation than the value of the property would litigate the most perfectly drawn up air tight will that had been reviewed by Clarence Darrow himself. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
23 minutes ago, OWH said:

I am going to suggest that if someone is litigating a will and spending far in excess of the value of the property to do so, that the small error in the will was inconsequential. 

The person who spends more on litigation than the value of the property would litigate the most perfectly drawn up air tight will that had been reviewed by Clarence Darrow himself. 

Jesus that's a cold position. Sentiment isn't captured in property value man.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, pzabbythesecond said:

Jesus that's a cold position. Sentiment isn't captured in property value man.

well not only that, there's also the fact that many litigants succumb to the sunk cost fallacy, aren't able to predict the future, and misunderstand the costs system in Canada. All of which can be helped by good legal counsel (well...maybe not the predict the future, but I can read tea leaves pretty well).

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To me the ideal situation (from the public interest point of view, not necessarily lawyers'!) is that there is good, useful, accurate information available to non-lawyers, and lawyers are willing and able to provide limited scope advice. So that ideally, someone could research something themselves, prepare a draft will, whatever, and then get a lawyer to review it for far less than it would cost for the lawyer to interview the client in detail and draft it themselves.

Unfortunately, for reasons relating both to clients and lawyers and liability concerns and the way ethical rules are phrased, this ideal is not I think currently the case. And sometimes while that's better than nothing (e.g. drafting pleadings), there's still a huge benefit to having a lawyer appear in court which is not so inexpensive.

One of the great things the LSBC does is make its materials for the bar exam available on the web (with all sorts of disclaimers!). I think they could do a better job of advertising that they do, but I think that their doing so is a service to the public of British Columbia. I wish the LSO still did so. Don't know about other law societies (whether they do/did once).

Of course, many people don't want to do research themselves (or in fairness, may lack the skills despite a publicly-funded education...). If someone I knew as a friend wanted to get free advice about IP, after disclaimers about timelines and using inventions in public and confidentiality and first publication and use in business and they're not my client yet and I was drunk (whether I was or not... :drinkers: ) I would give them some basic background, then advise them to read the CIPO website to get some background, then we could meet.

No-one ever read the brief guide on the CIPO website (to whatever aspect of IP was relevant), even though I was clear that if they did, I was willing to meet with them for free at least initially.

Similarly I've advised clients (I practice part-time), if you organize all your documents chronologically and make the filenames descriptive, and provide them to me that way, it will save you money because my review of them will be faster. That happens...not so much... :(

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 12/22/2018 at 12:16 PM, lawstudent20202020 said:

Care to explain? It's not that I don't think that people won't use these, I know they will. I don't think they are an appropriate replacement to legal advice. They lack all of the actual services of a lawyer and essential just walk you through how to fill out a form.

Software is eating the world. Technology is a better "record keeper" than a lawyer, and is better at capturing and reasoning through all scenarios, than a lawyer can, no matter how experienced they are. The future of the legal profession is to train machine learning models with their "experience" and technology providers, like Om Company, will augment a lawyer's decision making with thorough scenario modelling based on close to perfect information, rather than displace them. 

This is actually a good thing. Lawyers will be able to provide value added advisory and move away from the lower value tasks, which are also likely to introduce human errors. 

On 12/22/2018 at 2:02 PM, Ilinizas said:

The other argument is that greater access to these inferior products will expand the marketplace for legal services. Thoughts on that? Is this good for the profession? Is it good for consumers?

This is a bullshit post, and is DEFINITELY NOT representative of lawyers' views, especially aspiring students....however I saw another post from you later on (quoted last), so will give you the benefit of the doubt ;)

On 12/22/2018 at 2:10 PM, FingersCr0ssed said:

It depends on if there are statistics on whether these kits actually increase access to justice for those who could never afford real legal advice on one's respective legal issues, or if they're used by people simply because they're available and everyone feels like saving a few bucks in the short run.

There are statistics, and that is why I am bullish on technology. They're taking a data-driven approach to servicing the market. As aspiring lawyers, law students today should adopt the same "lean startup", mentality. The future of this profession relies on breaking the norm of the current law firm.

On 12/22/2018 at 4:27 PM, Eeee said:

A growing tranche of society are essentially lifelong debtors. They have no wealth to transmit to the next generation or to fight over in a separation. So for them, it is fine to have a symbolic but functionally useless "DIY Will", and we would expect use of DIY products to grow as more people join this bottom stratum of drones and working poor.

Come on, another shitty post, which I'm sure isn't representative of all lawyers. We all should be working to make the world a better place, re-think how people access legal services and education. Technology is going to disrupt mindsets like this because "society" doesn't have to rely on professionals like you to tell them that their situation can't be changed. In fact, technology is empowering people to learn and make decisions for themselves. Lawyers and aspiring students that see this, will become widely successful in their careers. 

On 12/22/2018 at 6:47 PM, Ilinizas said:

I agree. That's the unknown that we need someone to figure out. In my mind, it should be a simple microeconomics question, but lawyers serve so many verticals, that it probably changes for most legal solutions. Like, typically, when the price decrease, more people are willing to purchase the service. (I'm paraphrasing), Would a lower average cost for a will increase the overall market, or just decrease the cost paid without expanding the number of people purchasing? I don't know. Good question. 

 

I do wonder though, if this touches on the (at times) self-serving nature of self-regulation. Should our focus be on the effect on the size of the marketplace, or should it be on the % of consumers receiving an affordable legal solution (and increasing the available legal solutions so that more consumers can receive a legal solution). 

Look, yes there is price sensitivity and yes we should optimize for % of consumers. Market size is a lagging indicator and competitiveness, including the use of technology, will disrupt those who are trying to optimize and covet for size of the market.

On 12/22/2018 at 6:59 PM, lawstudent20202020 said:

That is assuming these products add some value. I would argue they don't add anything over just by doing it themselves. Perhaps a better solution would be guidelines available to the public where it would be reasonavle for someone to out together a basic will or other simple issue themselves. This way the simple things where everyone plays fair still work out just like they would with the online services, but the ones that go to shit, that would have gone to shit with the paid online service, don't have someone profiting off of the people that can't afford a lawyer without actually adding anything of value.

In the short time I have worked in law I've just seen way to many people work themselves inescapable pits becuase they have tried to use shortcuts like this, and I just can't say that they are better than nothing because of how screwed people are when things go wrong.

As a side note the types of transactions these services replace can be fairly inexpensive and I'm not sure that cost is the issue so much as people not understanding what they are actually pay for when they go to see a lawyer.

One of my professors focused on access to justice in their PhD, and they have said that money is not the biggest bar to access to justice as most people instinctively think. It's actually a lack of education on what their legal rights are.

One final note: maybe we need to start thinking about extending public funding to things like wills and non contentious divorces to lower income people.

You can argue companies like om company are "codifying" those guidelines. I did some research and they are part of the Legal Innovation Zone and are actually launching a service for lawyers also. 

I also think assuming cost IS NOT an issue is incorrect but I do agree that your professor is most likely right that lack of education is a bigger variable to consider. Why? Lack of education is what leads to people not being able to reconcile the cost. Self-service legal tech will make lawyers educate their customers on the true value of the services they provide. 

 

On 12/22/2018 at 7:17 PM, Ilinizas said:

I've never seen a DIY kit that didn't add at least some value. DIY kits typically include an education element. You need to learn how to fill out the form, and there are usually instructions to do that. If that education piece is done well, then it's valuable, but unless someone profits, it's not ever going to exist. So, the idea that no one should profit, essentially means that this will never be an option. 

As for "lack of money" v. "lack of education"... how do people get educated? They pay for it. It seems like a 6 of 1 and a half dozen of the other situation. They pay for education by hiring a lawyer. I guess, for me, it's a bit strange to hear you say that on one hand, you've seen so many people fuck things up trying to do it themselves, and on the other hand, "cost" isn't the primary barrier to accessing legal services. Why are there so many self-reps, and why are 20% of the incorporations in California done by LegalZoom? I guess you Professor would say... "the lack the education." And the logical next question - so now what? "Everyone should just hire a lawyer"? That's not really working all that well. 

This was the redeeming post to the above by the way. But you're mistaken on one point, you don't need to pay for education these days. Internet is democratizing access to education and technology is getting dramatically better at "discovering" the right education for a particular situation - which you can argue is what a lawyer does. The faster we all remember that lawyers SERVE their customers, the better it'll be for the legal profession. Just look at the medical profession. Technology is better at probabilistic modelling for diseases than doctors. The same is happening to the legal industry. Doctors aren't going to go away and lawyers aren't either.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 12/23/2018 at 2:40 AM, lawstudent20202020 said:

I'm going to disagree on those magnitude of those errors. I've seen small errors in wills lead to litigation far in excess of the value of the property.

Obviously there is a market for these as by all accounts legal zoom is a profitable business, but I can't help but wonder if the people that had success with legal zoom could have arrived at the same result without it.

Human errors > software-driven errors, because the latter gets better through QA and has economies of scale on accuracy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 12/23/2018 at 11:10 AM, lawstudent20202020 said:

It has been my experience that the possibility is actually quite high and proper legal advice drastically reduces that chance, but I'd be willing to change my stance on that if I could actually see stats on this.

This is kind of my point. I don't think legal zoom or other kits really add value because what the user gets from the kit they could have done without the diy kit fairly easily.

 

On your first point, good that you're ready to chance your stance. Think about this. Legal advice is as good as the inputs you're given to make to provide that advice. Services like you posted are going to get better at defining and capturing those questions. Second, the advice you give, based on the inputs you receive, is based on your personal understanding of precedent which ends up defining what makes sense and what doesn't for your client. When you don't know something, you consult libraries and peers. Technology is your new peer because it is codifying case law faster than any of your peers can help you understand and will reason over the inputs and provide you a set of advice to consider better than your favourite professor or judge can. The advice you give in the future is going to be from companies like Om Company, Legalzoom or other services. This is happening, welcome and embrace it! 

 

On your second point, you're not seeing the point on human errors > software-generated errors. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I feel like I just watched an infomercial on legal technology.

 

Future is here! For just the low price of 19.99 all your problems can go away! Forget your old and expensive vacuum cleaner - this one is lean, cheap, and mean. Embrace your new cleaner and easier future!

  • Haha 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@palmsa well hold on there there is a massive difference between machine learning and a DIY will kit. Also machine learning is not nearly that fair along to say it can currently replace a lawyers reasoning in all Situations. There is also a huge difference between giving legal tools into the hands of trained professionals vs the layman.

 

1 hour ago, palmsa said:

On your second point, you're not seeing the point on human errors > software-generated errors

I was strictly comparing a lawyers errors vs a person's errors using a DIY kit, you are arguing against something that wasnt my argument

If you go into my post history you will find that I actually agree with you that machine learning will drastically alter the legal landscape without killing off the legal profession.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In terms of Will kits, yes it's often better to have one than to have nothing (though certainly not always). The thing is, pretty much anyone who uses a Will kit can afford to shell out a few hundred bucks to a lawyer once every 25 years (and if they can't, then they should just forget about the Will altogether). It's not an access issue, rather it's just the typical myopic DIY attitude that drives people to use those products.

 

I come across these not infrequently in my practice (holographs, either from a kit or free form), and they result in increased costs in administration pretty much every time I do. And, from time to time, litigation.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.


  • Recent Posts

    • When I moved to Toronto in 2001 there were like 10 good restaurants in the city. I shudder to think how few there were in the 70s.
    • thanks so much for your input everyone, i really appreciate it. i'm going to talk to my principal this week and as was suggested will just raise it as a discussion before making a formal request, and i'll see what she thinks and we can talk it through, and then i'll go from there. 
    • The travel thing was weird. But I'd 100 percent rather have a 70s lifestyle (of a white male lawyer) than online dating, social media, and the like today.
    • Do law schools (particularly UofA) care about which specific courses students take during their undergrad? Does it look suspect if I took a bunch of "easy" classes (intro courses, 100-level, "GPA booster" classes, etc) even if I had a high GPA?  Also, do schools care about how many withdrawals are on my transcript? Or will I need to explain them in my personal statement? Thanks for the help!
    • Yeah, traveling was not more accessible in any previous era. Neither was good food, or good music (though live music was definitely more of a thing). You'd also be trading it for a few more years of life expectancy, less chance that your baby or you (or spouse) will die during childbirth, safer cars even if you're into that weird Corvette Stingray look, etc. etc.

×
×
  • Create New...