There was a recent piece on 60 Minutes about advances in artificial intelligence where computers have advanced to the point of being capable of learnong and can react and respond to their environments. It is fascinating stuff, but it also reminds me of some bad science fiction movie where the machines wind up taking over and destroying man-kind. Caveat Emptor, indeed!
We are, as a society, becoming more of a Do-It-Yourself group. Algorithms have been carefully designed where we can go online, input some data, and get the answers ourselves. We have all done that on WebMD at some point in our lives. We feel ill; we go online, input our symptoms, and self diagnose. Voila! We’ve saved ourselves time and money by not having to visit a doctor. Heck, I bet if you Googled it, you could probably find a step-by-step on how to perform your own appendectomy. With that kind of information, who needs doctors?
The same is true in the legal world. There continues to be an expansion of do-it-yourself legal products that are available and marketed. Why pay a lawyer when, for a low price, you can get a fill-in-the-blank form that can handle your every need. Not sure what you need? Just walk through the easy-to-navigate algorithm and anomymouslegalhelpfoarfee.com will tell you what you need. With that kind of information, who needs lawyers?
There are several problems with these products. One, you don’t actually ever speak with a lawyer. Two, lawyers are licensed by the state. You don’t know if what you’re paying for is even valid in your state. Three, I’ve seen the end result of these products. Quite frankly, they are ripping you off. You’re buying the equivalent of a Rodex watch or a Gussi handbag. (Yeah, no such thing.) As i said, rip off.
I’ve seen wills done on these products that the buyer felt like they had achieved peace of mind for when their time comes, but the will the computer drafted will assuredly cause the very drama and heartache that the buyer hoped his heirs would avoid. Recently, I reviewed a divorce client’s Prenuptial Agreement prepared by one of these programs. The only thing this document does is recite the law on how property and debt is classified and divided and that spousal support may or may not be necessary based on the circumstances of the parties at the time of the divorce. Well, no kidding! These folks paid $100 to get this document and it is entirely worthless. It sets out no rights or responsibilities or deals with any of the hard questions for the divorce that Prenuptial Agreements are supposed to resolve. As I sad, rip off.
I know what you’re thinking. Here’s a lawyer complaining about his shrinking market share, how he shouldn’t have to adapt to the changing world around him. You could not be more wrong. We have and continue to change and adapt. Our firm is the penultimate of adaptation. You can hire a licensed attorney through our firm to do the very same thing that you’re paying these online programs for at the same or lower cost and instead of some machine on some server out in some other state giving you some regurgitated standard document that does not actually effectuate anything and is really nothing but restated law, you have a real, live lawyer licensed in Georgia who is covered by malpractice insurance and who has a team of experienced, licensed, and equally covered attorneys to use as a resource in helping you actually obtain your desired goal.
Or you can pay $100 and waste 10 pages of copy paper and some ink toner to get nothing of value.
Your call. Accomplish what you set out to accomplish or blow your money on the next, great, feel good on-line product.
Vive la man!