Mar 2014

What You Need to Know about Online Legal Services

Technology has transformed the way people communicate and do business. Every day, companies across the country exchange documents and information online. The world has become a faster, more productive place. Although the legal industry is still playing catch-up when it comes to using the Internet to conduct business, the emergence of online legal document preparation websites is a clear indication that the law is becoming more accessible.

What most people do not realize, however, is that commercial legal document preparation sites are quite limited in scope and function. More importantly, they are not a substitute for advice from a real attorney licensed to practice law in the state where you live.

So how do you bridge the gap between fast, affordable legal documents and the services offered by a real attorney in your town? Fortunately, that bridge already exists. Enter the virtual law office.

The Danger of Online Document Preparation Websites

When online document preparation services first started popping up on the Internet, legal and business experts became concerned – and for good reason. These websites rely on the user, who is typically a lay person, to input information based on a preformed questionnaire. When the user finishes the questionnaire, the site automatically populates a standard form with the information provided by the user. A close look at these websites reveals the following:

  • These forms are not prepared by an attorney.
  • The forms are not reviewed by an attorney.
  • The forms these sites sell are not specifically tailored to the user’s needs.
  • They are not state-specific and are therefore flawed.

In essence, the only thing these websites offer is an automated way to purchase do-it-yourself forms online. Over the years, consumers have filed numerous lawsuits after receiving documents with mistakes that led to costly, time-consuming lawsuits down the road.

Virtual Law Firms: Real Advice. Real Value.

In response to online document preparation services that offer do-it-yourself forms, some attorneys have started to offer online legal services and documents on their websites. These “virtual law offices” come in a variety of forms. Some lawyers practice entirely online, while others offer virtual legal services as a companion to their brick and mortar practices. By working with an attorney to create documents precisely tailored to your needs, you can walk away knowing you received sound legal advice specific to your state’s laws – something you simply cannot get with an online document preparation site.

At The Law Offices of Randy L. Smith, LLC we maintain our traditional practice while offering a variety of services online. By providing our clients with a convenient way to access estate planning forms and basic business documents and advice, we are making high quality legal services available to people who might not otherwise get the opportunity to work with a qualified attorney. We provide our clients with a way to access legal services, including advice and documents, through our firm’s online portal. All client information is encrypted and secure. To speak to one of our lawyers about the online branch of our legal practice, call our office today at 417-841-2775 or visit the website of our online services division.