Legal Advice (UPL) or Not?

Posted on 11/18/14 No Comments

Legal Advice (UPL) or Not?

A #LegalZoom blog recently asked the question is providing assistance with legal documents practicing law? In other words is document preparation unlicensed practice of law? It depends on your perspective I guess. There are legal scholars and attorneys that would say absolutely. And there are others in the legal community that say absolutely not. So the debate ensues. #sanluisobispo  The facts are now and have been for over a decade that legal document assistants are governed by the business and professional codes. There are clearly defined parameters by which a legal document assistant must adhere to from what they can do and how and where they can market their businesses. With all that said, consumers are in favor of legal document assistance! This is evidenced by how fast the legal document assistant industry is growing. Take my company for example. We started years ago with just one location and now we have five retail offices throughout three counties in California. Plus, we have a healthy online business too. We have thousands of customers and I would say probably a 99% customer satisfaction rate. When customers contact us for a legal service, we do a very quick assessment to see if it is a fit or not. Some customers think that their matters are very simple, but they are not, so we have to refer them off to an attorney. Contrarily, some customers feel that there matter is complex, when it simply is not and after providing them with information that is publicly available; we are generally able to assist and are happy to do so. For example, a typical family law customer needs help with a simple divorce. The couple is been married for a few years and has no children and no assets and debts to divide. In this situation, there really is no need for an attorney or legal advice for that matter. This couple just needs to have their documents prepare, processed with the court and are seeking a judgment for dissolution. On the flipside, we do get customers that have children and assets and debts to divide. In that case, we do provide a lot of information to them in order for them to make their decisions. #divorce Plus, there are a ton of resources that we can give to them that enable them to make their decisions. Resources are online and actual attorneys that we are able to refer them to for advice. Most of the times, these potential customers are able to get the advice they need to be able to make decisions about their situation and continue using our document preparation service. It is a win-win all around. Customers are getting the education that they should have and need prior to making decisions about custody matters and property and asset division. And they are getting affordable and professional legal assistance to the endgame of getting their judgment for dissolution. There is no pompousness, no attitudes, no high fees…just a great serving situation taking in a welcoming and non-judgmental environment.  #custody Long and short of it is that customer who use Legal Document service like mind tend to get a bargain while at the same time getting a quality legal document preparation service.  When we cannot help a customer or their matter is complex, then we readily refer the customers to an attorney to get legal advice and strategy that I cannot provide. However, rarely do attorney refer to us in kind because who is going to tell a customer that does not require legal advice, “hey, you can get a near identical document preparation for a fraction of the cost.”  That is not going to happen.  There are legal document services and providers, such as Comstock and Wagner, Fernandez and Fernandez and At Your Service Legal and Tax in Santa Maria, but from the feedback we have been given over the years that our approach and customer service is desirable and has made the difference for many.  We are happy to help at one of our offices in Paso Robles, Santa Maria, Arroyo Grande, Atascadero, Bakersfield and San Luis Obispo.

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