Top 6 things to consider when buying online legal forms

As a follow up to my last blog, I thought it would be helpful to write a quick blog about the top 6 things to consider when you’re looking to buy online legal forms. The bottom line is that everyone wants online legal forms to be GOOD, CHEAP, and DELIVERED FAST. Well, with the Internet, the latter TWO are covered. But what about Good? How do you know whether an online legal form is any good?

1. Humanese

What good is a legal form if you can’t understand what it’s saying? Lawyers have long been guilty of using a language that only they can understand. Words like “therewith”, “herein”, “in witnesseth thereof”, “in consideration thereof”, are rarely used in everyday language – but are still prevalent in legal contracts. Why should lawyers be the only masters of contractual language? Why do clients tolerate such jargon? Why do we still use Latin? Does it make it easier for the everyday person to understand or worse? In my humble opinion, for a contract to be effective and meaningful to the parties, it should be written in as clear and simple a language as is spoken in everyday situations. So here’s the test: if you’ve read a few sentences from an online legal form and you can’t understand what it’s saying…move on…

2. Jurisdiction

What good is a British Columbia rental agreement if you are trying to rent out an apartment in Ontario? Are the laws the same everywhere you go? Absolutely not! Laws change from one jurisdiction (e.g. province, country) to the next. They also change with little notice. So if you can’t figure out if your agreement was written by a local lawyer and taking into account local laws, then…you guessed it…move on…

3. Customization

Standard legal forms were designed for simple situations where the parties are tech savvy enough to complete it with some basic guidance and can’t otherwise afford to hire a lawyer. If you need a lot of customization, however, you’ve got a choice: either hire a lawyer to draft the language you need to protect your rights and promote your interests or try to do it yourself (which can be a daunting task). Remember: lawyers have gone through years of schooling to learn how to research and write in a clear and effective manner. They live it everyday of their lives. If you’re not comfortable doing this yourself and if you’re worried that you haven’t covered everything, consult a lawyer.

4. Guidance

Richard Susskind (law professor and noted author of “The End of Lawyers“) predicted that the legal service engineers would figure out a way to help the masses access legal services through the use of technology. I believe strongly in what Professor Susskind is talking about. That’s why, when you’re looking for a legal form, you should also look for guidance about how to go about filling it out. Look, I’m a lawyer and even I have difficulty figuring out how to fill out a form. That’s why I go to the library and pull out books to see why we have a specific clause in an agreement. Without that guidance, I would be lost. Guidance can come in the form of legal information (e.g. an eBook), a video, or the opportunity to have a lawyer review and explain something to you.

5. Updates

Laws change all the time. Is the legal form you’re about to buy up-to-date? If you’re not sure…move on…

6. Who’s behind the legal form?

Always check to see who stands behind their legal forms. Is it a person or a corporation? Does the corporation have a person behind it? If you keep looking, eventually you should find someone. Where are they located? Are they accessible? If it’s a nameless corporation that doesn’t stand behind their legal form and is ready to be accountable…move on…

written by admin \\ tags: , , ,

Comments on this entry are closed.