We live in a Do-It-Yourself society, especially now that the secrets of the universe can be unveiled with a simple google search. If you can learn how to build a bomb or do brain surgery on the Internet, surely you can figure out your own legal advice. So, one of the most common questions I hear is: Can’t I just download a form (or use an online service like Legal Zoom), instead of paying for a real live lawyer?
It’s a good question. And, being a life-long “Do-It-Yourself-er,” I understand the appeal. But there are lots of reasons why this is a really bad idea . . .
1) The Short Answer: Would you really attempt brain surgery based on what you read online? No of course not — at least not on someone you cared about! And while drafting legal documents is not quite the same as brain surgery (and usually won’t have a life or death impact), it is similarly difficult to do well without lots of specialized training and experience. Here’s why:
2) You Can’t Really Tell Good From Bad (And Why It Matters): When a non-lawyer downloads a legal document he has no way to determine its quality. I’ve found many “legal” documents on the web that clearly were not drafted by lawyers (this is especially true in the world of web developer and artist agreements). Even if you download from a supposedly reputable site, like Nolo.com or Legal Zoom, there is a wide range of quality in the documents available. Without legal training, you have no basis for determining best, worst or mediocre.
Why does it matter? Read more
I will be doing a presentation on Internet Law, part of a two-part workshop by SCORE Orange County called “Hot Topics in Internet Marketing,” at the Fullerton Library on March 10, 2011, at 6:00 to 9:00 pm. The other part of the workshop, on Google Analytics, will be presented by my colleague Vazi Okhandiar. Usually, these workshops are very lively, with lots of questions and audience participation, and we’re hoping for a good turnout for this one. I will post the presentation slides here shortly after the workshop takes place.
I’m doing a workshop on Legal Topics for Start-Ups, on Saturday, January 29, 2011 at National University in Costa Mesa, CA. Among the topics covered will be: choosing a business entity, comparing features of an S Corp vs. LLC, basic contract law, trademark and copyright issues, privacy law, and Internet marketing issues. The workshop is part of an all-day program put on by the Orange County Chapter of SCORE, called Business Start-Up Essentials, that covers additional topics such as basic accounting, finance, sales and marketing, human resources and insurance issues for small business :
“Business Start-up Essentials”
Where & When
Saturday January 29, 2011
8:30 AM to 4:30 PM
3390 Harbor Blvd.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
$50 at the door
(cash or check only)
$40 if you pre-register online at www.SCORE114.org Read more
A small business owner needs a lawyer like . . . a fish needs a bicycle? I know that’s what a lot of business owners think. When told they should get legal advice, they react with disgust, horror, panic, fear, or some combination of those emotions. And for good reason. Going to a lawyer’s office can be intimidating. Getting a lawyer to pay attention and give practical advice can be daunting. And thinking about all the money it might cost is completely overwhelming. So lots of people try to get around this. They ask a friend or relative for advice. They try to do it themselves (maybe with some online help). Or — by far the most popular — they ignore the problem and hope it goes away.
I understand. In my career, I have hired and supervised dozens of attorneys on hundreds of matters. I was often frustrated with the level of service they provided. I was ALWAYS frustrated with the cost. But if you are starting up a business, or running a business with employee, contracts or other legal needs (which, let’s face it, is pretty much EVERY business), there are at least 5 good reasons you should bite the bullet and get professional legal help. Why? Because: Read more