Earlier this week I saw an advertisement for LegalZoom on television. I suppose it was inevitable that companies would create a software program that converts lawyering to an electronic format without the lawyer (the “eLawyer”).
Do-it-yourself software programs are popular amongst bankruptcy attorneys and people filing for bankruptcy. Why pay for an attorney when you can do it yourself with Turbo-Tax-like ease? Just plug in the numbers and voila!
But, I have to admit that I am skeptical about these programs. Where is the accountability? Where is the human interaction? If you use this legal software and it royally messes up your case, can you sue them for legal malpractice? Can you report them to the bar association? Probably not.
I have used lawyering software to help me Bluebook, Shephardize, cite check, and source check. While the software was faster, I still had to go back through the briefs countless times to make sure there were no errors. I preferred Bluebooking, Shephardizing, cite checking, and source checking without the automated programs. While I am slower at compiling a Table of Authorities than my computer counterparts, at least it took me less time to go through the final brief. Sometimes, it would take me longer to update the brief after the automated program had run. I always had the strangest formatting issues. When I used these software programs, I always had to worry about the style formatting getting messed up when last minute changes were inputted into the body of the brief. Updating last minute paginations changes to a brief is always stressful and not very pleasant, but these last minute changes are inevitable.
If any of you have used eLawyering software that is meant to replace the human lawyer, let me know what your thoughts were about the program. Was it helpful? Was it effective? Was it worth the investment? Did you save a lot of money? Did you miss having the ability to converse with someone with personalized questions or facts pertaining to your case?
The American Bar Association wrote an article titled, “eLawyering forecast: Six predictions on tomorrow’s law practice.” It is an interesting piece! Read more about it here.