Online Legal Services: What You Should Know

At Williams Kilpatrick, we know that opening and running a business takes time… and money. Many people look to online legal services to save money, but in the long run, small business owners may learn the hard way: you get what you pay for. The quality of such services has changed, largely for the better, over the years; however, these services are not right for everyone or every situation.

Most online services offer services for per job prices or for a monthly subscription fee. These arrangements may be good for some small businesses. Like any do-it-yourself project, it is imperative that you have enough basic knowledge to take on the job.

What you should know about online services:

  • These are not law firms, even if they provide attorney consultation. Also, these attorneys may be located in a different state or even overseas.
  • Services may disclaim the accuracy of their work with such statements as “not guaranteed to be correct, complete, or up to date.” Many will even disclose that no attorney-client relationship is established and that the services are not intended as a substitute for legal advice. Consider the confidence you would have in an attorney who made such disclaimers.
  • You can get up-sold quickly – that low, upfront cost turns out being more expensive in the long run.
  • Online help may not be as responsive as you need, resulting in delays in preparing relatively simple paperwork.

What you should know about working with an attorney:

  • You get one-on-one advice.
  • You can build a relationship with an attorney who can help your business as it grows. If issues arise, your attorney can respond quickly and effectively.
  • You are working directly with an attorney who actually practices business law.
  • An attorney will know how to form a business the right—and easiest possible—way in your state.
  • A simple one-member limited liability company is easy to set up online. Most states have forms online that are easy to understand and fill out; however, an LLC may not be the best entity for your business. An attorney can educate and advise you on the pros and cons of business entity selection.
  • Corporations must follow statutory formalities during their existence. Incorporating is only the first step. An attorney can advise you on such matters as proper conduct of board meetings, keeping minutes and establishing by-laws.

“While lower prices are enticing, the decision to use an online legal filing service rather than an attorney in a law firm is a big one, since the implication of improperly filed contracts can be severe for the business owner” (Business News Daily). If you’re looking to get your business started, seek the best professional advice. In the long run, the investment in your business is worth your ease of mind.