Information is instantaneously available due to the rise of the internet. Additionally, many services that were not available in the past, including do-it-yourself (DIY) legal forms also exist. As a result, it is tempting to use the forms provided by these DIY services as a low-cost substitute for an attorney. The reality is business owners need to be aware that using these one-size-fits-all forms may end up costing your business much more than they save. We know that it may seem self-serving for an attorney to warn of the dangers of using DIY legal forms. The risks, however, are genuine. We want you to make an informed decision when weighing your options.
Several years ago, Consumer Report® magazine evaluated the services offered by these DIY legal sites. They first created several types of legal documents using their online forms. Then, they asked three law professors specializing in business, consumer, and estate planning law, to evaluate the documents created. The professors found that the documents were inadequate to meet the needs of most individuals. These forms were not specific enough to address each user’s unique circumstances and needs. They also contained language that could lead to unintended results. This should be a wake-up call for anyone considering using these services.
Each business is different, and each business owner has different goals and legal needs. These must be carefully considered and addressed to enable a business to function optimally and to avoid unnecessary legal trouble. The failure to obtain counsel from a well-qualified business law attorney could lead to several unanticipated costs:
(1) Unnecessary legal costs. Although it may initially save money to form your business or draft your contracts using online forms, these forms are unlikely to meet the unique needs of your company. They represent the least common denominator across business types and jurisdictions. As a result, they may not include provisions or protections that are essential for your specific business that would have been identified and addressed by experienced, knowledgeable business law attorneys. This could create unnecessary legal disputes and thousands of dollars in legal fees that far outweigh the “savings” provided by the DIY legal forms.
(2) Wasted time. Business owners know the truth underlying the adage that “time is money.” Every minute spent on unnecessary disputes and lawsuits is one not spent on activities that further the success of your business. Most business owners invest substantial time in building and operating their businesses. They don’t have time to spare for avoidable disputes. The high opportunity cost generated by legal problems that could have been avoided is something to account for when deciding whether to use DIY legal forms.
(3) Damage to reputation. If you fail to use individually tailored and well-drafted legal documents and procedures that are designed to proactively avoid disputes, the reputation of your business could suffer over time. Well-drafted contracts save your business from potential legal troubles, and protect your vendors and customers from encountering legal problems. It makes sense for businesses to make it easier, not harder, for customers and business partners to continue to engage with them. Otherwise, they may decide it just isn’t worth the hassle. This situation will reflect poorly on your business and your brand, and will likely affect your business’s profitability.
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Using inexpensive DIY legal services may appear to make sense at first glance. However, a more in-depth look reveals that they could cost your business dearly. The fees you pay for DIY legal forms could cause you thousands of dollars in legal expenses down the road. We can help ensure that your business has a solid legal foundation and uses well-thought-out processes and contracts designed to facilitate smooth business operations by providing legal services designed to address the specific needs of your unique business. Please contact us today to set up a meeting.