eLawyering Blog

eLawyering Blog

Lawyers Delivering Legal Services OnLine

Category Archives: Document Automation

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North Carolina Lawyers Oppose Access to the Legal System

Posted in Change, Document Automation, Expert Systems, Legal Ethics, Self-Help Law, Unauthorized Practice of Law, Web-Enabled Document Assembly
 A bill was introduced in the North Carolina legislature that would narrow the definition of the “practice of law” to exclude sell-help legal materials, including books, software, and legal information. [ See House Bill 663 ]. The text of the amendment is: “(b) The phrase “practice law” does not encompass any of the following:” …  (2) the … Continue Reading

Best Practice Guidelines for Legal Document Service Providers

Posted in Document Automation, eLawyering Ethical Issues, eLawyering Events, Legal Ethics, LegalZoom, Web-Enabled Document Assembly
The American Bar Association’s eLawyering Task Force has compiled a draft set of best practice guidelines for legal document providers, which can be downloaded here*.   An increasingly popular – and controversial – category of service providers are those that supply customer-specific documents over the Internet, using interactive software and/or human resources, without purporting to be engaged in … Continue Reading

Serving Justice With Conversational Law: Expert Legal Systems Are Here

Posted in Document Automation, Expert Systems, Law Firm Productivity, Virtual Law Practice
David R. Johnson, a Visiting Professor at the Institute for Information Law and Policy and New York Law School, has written a new thought piece for the World Future Society on how the digitization of law changes the nature of law. Building on a theme first articulated by Ethan Katsh in his seminal work on … Continue Reading

LegalZoom: The “Good Enough” Legal Solution

Posted in Document Automation, Legal Plans, LegalZoom, Limited Scope Legal Services, Unauthorized Practice of Law, Unbundled Legal Services, Web-Enabled Document Assembly
LegalZoom, the leading online provider of legal services to consumers and small business, as predicted here previously, finally filed for an IPO last week. The company is seeking to raise $120 million to expand their services both in the US and internationally. LegalZoom’s data in the S-1 filing is now available for everyone to analyze: … Continue Reading

Free Online Course on Digital Law Practice

Posted in Change, Document Automation, eLawyering Events, Social Networking, Training and Education, Unauthorized Practice of Law, Unbundled Legal Services, Web-Enabled Document Assembly
The Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction (CALI) is offering a free online course on digital law practice, primarily for law students and law professors, but anyone can register.   I don’t doubt that most law faculty will find these topics to be irrelevant, but its connecting with law students, as over 500 law students have … Continue Reading

Legal Forms for the Price of a Song on iTunes?*

Posted in Change, Collaboration Tools, Competition, Document Automation, Law Firm Productivity, Legal Fees, Self-Help Law, Virtual Law Firms, Web-Enabled Document Assembly
Legal forms, without the legal advice or assistance of a lawyer, continue to decline in value. As a pure digital product, a legal form follows the price curve of other digital goods eventually approaching zero.  Several new start-ups in the legal industry will accelerate this trend. Docracy is a new legal document start-up, founded by … Continue Reading

Is Legal Software Conduct? True or False?

Posted in Competition, Document Automation, Expert Systems, LegalZoom, Unauthorized Practice of Law, Web-Enabled Document Assembly
On August 2, 2011, Federal District Judge Nanette K. Laughrey, for the Western District of Missouri, the Judge presiding over the class action case against LegalZoom for unauthorized practice of law, released an opinion denying, in part, Defendant’s Motion of Summary Judgment. The Court held that document preparation by non-lawyers, under Missouri Law, is conduct, … Continue Reading

Is LegalZoom Just a Self-Help Legal Software Company?

Posted in Competition, Document Automation, eLawyering Ethical Issues, Expert Systems, LegalZoom, Self-Help Law, Unauthorized Practice of Law, Web-Enabled Document Assembly
In a Fortune Magazine blog post by Roger Parloff just last week, entitled Can Software Practice Law?, writing about the class action suit against LegalZoom in Missouri for violating Missouri’s UPL statute, Parloff argues that LegalZoom is no more than a self-help legal software company, and therefore entitled to the same protections as a self-help legal software … Continue Reading

Nolo is Acquired by Internet Brands as Part of Legal Roll Up

Posted in DirectLaw Law Firms, Document Automation, LegalZoom, Marketing On-Line Legal Services, Pro Se, Public Sector eLawyering, Self-Help Law, Unbundled Legal Services, Web-Enabled Document Assembly
After 40 years of leading the self-help law movement, Nolo, is being acquired by Internet Brands an advertising driven Internet company. Nolo was created by two frustrated legal aid lawyers, Charles (Ed) Sherman and Ralph (Jake) Warner, who wanted to figure out a way to help the thousands of consumers with their legal problems who … Continue Reading

The Law Wizard – from Great Britain

Posted in Document Automation, Pro Se, Public Sector eLawyering, Self-Help Law, Web Legal Advisors, Web-Enabled Document Assembly
I discovered an interesting web site called The Law Wizard,  still in beta, for pro se parties doing their own probate, in the United Kingdom.  The site promises to offer a unique package of online interactive tools, guides and videos. The Probate Wizard is initially designed for individuals who want to probate their own estates, … Continue Reading

On-Line Wills: Web Forms Only vs. Lawyer Services

Posted in Document Automation, Expert Systems, Law Firm Productivity, Virtual Law Firms, Virtual Law Practice, Web-Enabled Document Assembly
Last week the New York Times, in it’s Your Money column,  did an evaluation of non-lawyer legal form sites that offer wills on-line, including products offered by Legal Zoom and Nolo. The author concluded that a lawyer can still be very helpful: "… a computer program can’t ask you about your family relationships or tease … Continue Reading

2010 ABA Legal Technology Survey Report on E-Lawyering: Questionable Data

Posted in Change, Collaboration Tools, Document Automation, Virtual Law Firms, Virtual Law Practice, Web-Enabled Document Assembly
Volume IV of the recently released 2010 ABA Legal Technology Survey Report is devoted to Web and Communication Technology. A section on E-Lawyering reports that 14% of Respondents over all, and 19% of solo practitioners, report that they have a virtual law office or virtual law practice. This question in the survey that deals with … Continue Reading

DirectLaw is Becoming an Open and Multi-Sided Platform for Virtual Law Firms

Posted in DirectLaw Law Firms, Document Automation, Law Firm Productivity, LegalZoom, Unbundled Legal Services
The DirectLaw Virtual Law Platform is evolving into what is called a multi-sided and open platform. Our latest feature enables the sales of non-Rapidocs documents and HOTDOCS templates, in addition to Rapidocs automated document templates. We added this functionality in response to our #1 question from law firms — "Can I use my own documents?" … Continue Reading

The Kre8tive Law Group Launches First DirectLaw Virtual Law Firm in Canada

Posted in Collaboration Tools, Document Automation, Law Firm Productivity, Unbundled Legal Services, Virtual Law Firms, Virtual Law Practice
The Kre8tive Law Group, managed by Solicitor Andrea Riccio in Calgary, Alberta, has become Canada’s first virtual law firm using DirectLaw’s virtual law firm platform. The firm offers "unbundled legal services" to both individual and small business clients. Clients can: buy completed legal documents together with legal advice pay for legal advice at a fixed price … Continue Reading

LegalZoom Sued for UPL in Missouri

Posted in Competition, Document Automation, Expert Systems, Law Firm Productivity, Legal Fees, LegalZoom, Unauthorized Practice of Law, Unbundled Legal Services, Virtual Law Firms
It seems like LegalZoom’s practices are finally catching up with it. The company is being sued in Missouri on the grounds of unauthorized practice of law and the plaintiff’s are requesting class certification. To give an example of how popular LegalZoom’s services have become, LegalZoom in its petition for removal to Federal court claims that … Continue Reading

Automated Document Assembly as a Disruptive Legal Technology

Posted in Change, Click-And-Mortar, Competition, Document Automation, Expert Systems, LegalZoom, Self-Help Law, Web-Enabled Document Assembly
Richard Susskind, in his new book, The End of Lawyers? Rethinking the Nature of Legal Services, devotes a chapter to disruptive legal technologies and identifies automated document assembly as a leading example. A related analysis can be found in a paper produced by Darryl Mountain, a Vancouver attorney, that is titled "Disrupting Conventional Law Firm Business … Continue Reading

Client Confidentiality and Online Document Preparation

Posted in Document Automation, eLawyering Ethical Issues, Outsourcing, Unauthorized Practice of Law
Some of our law firm clients have asked us whether there is a breach of confidentiality if a law firm uses our automated legal documents and virtual law firm technology as part of their web site. In our model, we provide a technology platform where a client who has been accepted by the law firm … Continue Reading

UPL Issue in On-Line Document Assembly

Posted in Document Automation, eLawyering Ethical Issues, LegalZoom, Unauthorized Practice of Law, Web-Enabled Document Assembly
Recently a prospect for our DirectLaw Web Service asked me whether it was the unauthorized practice of law for a law firm to use a legal document that is generated by our web-enabled document automation system (Rapidocs), because the legal form did not originate within the law firm itself. In this model, a client completes … Continue Reading

First DirectLaw firm in Georgia

Posted in Click-And-Mortar, Document Automation, Law Firm Productivity, Unbundled Legal Services, Virtual Law Firms, Virtual Law Practice, Web-Enabled Document Assembly
EssentiaLegal, based in Atlanta, Georgia, and founded by Robert Arrington, Latif Oduolo-Owoo, & Michael Mason, three alumni from large law firm practices in Atlanta, is a new style law firm, part virtual and part physical that is designed to serve the broad middle class with unbundled legal services. The physical office is located in a … Continue Reading

LEGALTECH NEW YORK 2009

Posted in Document Automation, eLawyering Events, Law Firm Productivity, Marketing On-Line Legal Services, Virtual Law Firms, Web Legal Advisors
We are exhibiting our DirectLaw Web Service at LEGALTECH in New York on February 2-4, 2009. This show is one of the largest legal technology shows involving over 450 legal technology vendors which attract over 13,000 participants. The show is at the New York Hilton at 1335 Sixth Avenue. We are Booth #1621 on Level … Continue Reading