Why Pay for Legal Forms When You Can Get Them for Free?
I occasionally hear about people who buy a will, contract, or other legal form from do-it-yourself (DIY) websites like LegalZoom and Rocket Lawyer. Or they may have purchased forms or software at an office supply store.
Why pay for legal forms when you can get them free online? There was a time when legal forms were difficult to find online. These days, Google provides a tool allowing you to search for all sorts of legal forms.
Try these searches:
- NDA agreement filetype:pdf
- Minnesota independent contractor agreement filetype:pdf
- Minnesota corporation bylaws filetype:pdf
You can create your own search like this in Google Advanced Search.
LegalZoom Admits Its Limitations in Helping You
LegalZoom’s own disclaimer speaks for itself about its inadequacy and unreliability:
LegalZoom is not a law firm, and the employees of LegalZoom are not acting as your attorney. LegalZoom’s legal document service is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney.
. . .
LegalZoom cannot provide legal advice and can only provide self-help services at your specific direction.
LegalZoom is not permitted to engage in the practice of law. LegalZoom is prohibited from providing any kind of advice, explanation, opinion, or recommendation to a consumer about possible legal rights, remedies, defenses, options, selection of forms or strategies.
. . .
At no time do we review your answers for legal sufficiency, draw legal conclusions, provide legal advice or apply the law to the facts of your particular situation. LegalZoom and its services are not a substitute for the advice of an attorney.
. . . the legal information on this site is not legal advice and is not guaranteed to be correct, complete or up-to-date.
LegalZoom is not responsible for any loss, injury, claim, liability, or damage related to your use of this site or any site linked to this site, whether from errors or omissions in the content of our site or any other linked sites, from the site being down or from any other use of the site. In short, your use of the site is at your own risk.
In other words, LegalZoom is a site with forms, which may have errors. Buyer beware.
There are Problems with Legal Form Sites
I won’t criticize LegalZoom, Rocket Lawyer, and other paid forms sites online, but they have been criticized by a number of legal authorities:
- The Problem with LegalZoom (And Other Do-It-Yourself Estate Planning Solutions)
- LegalZoom vs. Lawyer: What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You
LegalZoom and Rocket Lawyer Promo Codes
Some people come to this page looking for a promo code for LegalZoom or Rocket Lawyer. They are searching for promotional codes to get a discount. If you just need legal forms, not the advice of an attorney, use Google Advanced Search (above) to find millions of legal forms online for free. You will save yourself money.
Should You Use Legal Forms?
When the stakes are high, the last thing you want is errors in your legal documents. Small errors can have big consequences. So don’t get legal forms for your important legal matters without consulting with an attorney.
You often don’t know what protections are missing from a will, trust, or legal form until it’s too late. For example, errors in a will may not be revealed until after death, when it’s too late to change the document. Similarly, problems in a contract are not normally identified until the parties are fighting, looking at the contract for their legal rights.
If you need a free legal form for a small transaction, it obviously makes no sense to spend a few hundred dollars hiring an attorney to draft the contract. But if you will be using that contract multiple times, or if the transaction is for a large amount, the cost of an attorney to draft a document is relatively little compared to the cost of losing money in the transaction.
Attorneys use legal forms, but as a starting point, not as the final document. Attorneys merge multiple forms, and revise some language, to ensure the document does what each client needs. The key is making sure that you have the right provisions in a document, and those provisions say what you want them to say.