There is currently a battle raging in the US over whether LegalZoom, an online repository of standard form legal documents, provides legal services.
If they do provide legal services, they may be doing so unlawfully in many jurisdictions because the legal profession around the world is regulated in such a way to prevent non-lawyers from passing themselves off as lawyers.
LegalZoom is an interesting case because there are apparently lawyers behind the service who assist to draft the documents. So is this infringing the rules or not?
Most recently, South Carolina has said no. But North Carolina and several other states are yet to rule on the issue. There is still a way to go.
At this juncture, one response would be pursue LegalZoom to the bitter end where and put them out of business where that is still possible (or at least force them to change their business model). There are clearly some who advocate this course, otherwise the litigation would not be happening in the first place.
To others, that approach looks naive. And to be fair, there is a certain inevitability to the technological advances being made in the legal field that suggests that even if those pursuing LegalZoom win the battle, they may turn around after doing so to find that they have lost the war.
So here’s a thought: why not try beating LegalZoom at their own game?
That is, lawyers might prefer to consider how LegalZoom attracts customers and how they can offer competing services consistent with their firm’s brand.
What might those competing services look like?
- A document, or packaged set of documents, drafted with the lawyer’s industry-specific, geographically-localised expertise.
- An online portal, that looks and feels like an interaction with the lawyer’s brand, which invites the client to purchase the package and generate the documents in a way that minimises the lawyer’s involvement as far as possible.
- At a cost that reflects the savings made by the lawyer in taking a packaged, systemised approach.
If every lawyer offered this as part of their sweep of services, perhaps there would be no need for LegalZoom and the like. In fact, clients may prefer a more localised, industry-specific service, together the ability to contact the lawyer who drafted the documents to get more detailed advice if necessary.
But how does a lawyer go about implementing this approach? Admittedly, that is a problem right now. It seems that the best solution is to create a bespoke addition to your own website, and that can be time-consuming and costly.
That is why we are building Quillo. We want to provide a solution to allow every lawyer to put their legal templates to work and offer clients a new level of service with a bespoke feel.
We want to see lawyers thrive in the NewLaw environment and we hope to start doing that soon.