In my last post, I wrote about how LegalZoom may or may not be my competitor, but how I will keep talking about the dangers of DIY estate planning because it's so important. I discussed many of the problems with LegalZoom, including specific examples of where LZ planning had gone wrong. Now, I'd like to discuss what attorneys can learn from LegalZoom.
1. Low prices are alluring.
One of the big allures of LegalZoom is the cost. Because LZ is using the same forms over and over again and because they have entirely automated the drafting of the documents, they are able to sell their will for $69. This is extremely affordable when you compare it with an attorney's fees, even attorneys who are cranking out the same document over and over again.
I'm not suggesting that attorneys lower their prices or switch to a format that automatically generates forms over and over again, but I am suggesting that we work to convey what it is we are actually being paid for! We are not being paid for documents. We are being paid for our advice, something that LegalZoom simply cannot offer. (Although I do have some ideas for them. Post on that soon to come. ;) )
2. Convenience is a big deal.
Over and over again, the testimonials convey how easy and convenient LZ was. The people in the videos and commercials talk about convenience way more than they talk about cost. We learned from Greg Luce that finding an attorney you feel comfortable with can be difficult and time-consuming, making it seem like a waste of time. (I linked to this series in the comments section of my previous post.) I also suspect that the 15 minutes it takes to prepare your LZ forms makes it seem like spending hundreds to thousands on an attorney is a waste of money.
Attorneys need to make it easy for clients to find them, and easy for clients to go through the estate planning process. We need to convey why convenience can be so dangerous, and we need to convey to the public why it's worth it to go to the extra trouble and money to find and work with an attorney.
3. The public needs our help more than ever.
We learned from Jane's video that the public needs the help of attorneys more than ever. Legal documents are available to the public, but most people don't really even know what their DIY documents do. Jane thinks that her Will helps her estate to avoid probate. She is wrong, but LZ couldn't convey that to her properly.
I believe that attorneys have a duty to both their clients and to the public. Our duty to the public is a moral one. I don't believe in having the attitude that since we have enough clients coming to us, we don't need to educate the public. It is up to us to make sure that the public knows about how dangerous DIY legal planning can be. Several attorneys are doing this already, through their educational workshops and seminars, and through their informational blogs. I commend all of these attorneys. Keep doing what you do! (I really need to update my links on this blog, btw!)
I've outlined three very basic things that attorneys can learn from LegalZoom, but I'm curious to know - what do YOU think attorneys can learn from LZ? Whether you're an attorney or not, I'd like to know what you think. Talk to me in the comments!
To your family's health & prosperity,
P.S. Attorneys: I mentioned that I need to update my links! I don't think they've been updated since 2008. :} In the comments, please link to your blog and others that are helpful if you think I should link to it on my blog. Thanks!