In the age of the “Do-It-Yourself” (DIY) mentality, entrepreneurs who are resourceful and eager to cut costs may attempt to perform legal work themselves by using the Internet as a resource for sample agreements, forms, and answers to their legal questions. While the Internet is an amazing tool and the great equalizer, it is no substitute for advice from trained legal counsel. Just as identifying your medical symptoms on sites like WebMD is no substitute for visiting a doctor, using the Internet alone as the source of legal advice can cause more cost and headaches in the long run. The following examples illustrate some of the downsides to using the Internet instead of a lawyer.
1. DIY Sites Lack Customization
Many entrepreneurs believe that filling out a form on a site like LegalZoom or Rocketlawyer is all they need to do to start a business. However, taking this approach will deprive the entrepreneur of crucial legal advice that could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars later.
For example, is the owner concerned about personal liability? How many shareholders will there be? Will it be a closely-held family business, or will there be many investors involved? How will the profits be distributed? What steps need to occur before the entity can go public or be sold? What makes the most sense: an LLC, LLP, general partnership, professional corporation, non-profit, or other entity? A qualified attorney can help you navigate these issues, and provide you with the advice that a website can’t.
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