In recent years a plethora of self-help options have flourished in the legal industry as people scramble to start their own businesses or just save a few dollars. I would attribute a bit of this newly rediscovered do-it-yourself chutzpah to the sinking economy, but this trait has always persisted below the surface of Americana life and is commonly found in places away from the congested and populous urban cores of our nation where everything is instant and ready-made. It should come as no surprise then as Americans’ spending power weakens, our frugal mentality kicks into high gear.
Generally speaking, you go to a professional for his/her services because you seek the expert opinion of someone educated in the problem you are experiencing. However, what we are experiencing as a legal industry is a number of generally-packaged legal contracts that attempt to color the canvas by throwing a bucket of paint at it and business “consultants” attempting to render legal advice while advising startups and other ventures in marketing, operations, etc… There are a number of problems with this simple remedy to complex issue approach. First, packaged legal contracts often fail to address the nuances of the given particular situation. Just as no person is exactly like another the same can be said for instances when people need legal advice. The sad thing about these types of situations is that people are often paying a substantial amount for package of forms that they believe will alleviate the problem when often it will require an even larger amount of time and money for an actual lawyer to remedy the problem once it arises. Secondly, the rise of the so-called “consultant” in the marketplace diminishes the quality of legal service to you as a consumer because this person is often not aware of the legal changes taking place at the local, state, and national level because they are attempting to sell you an all-encompassing package or bundle of business and “legal” tools. This is not even considering the fact that they lack any sort of formal education as it relates to law. Additionally, in the event that the consultant passes along a contract to you for usage in your business, it is quite possible that the boilerplate provisions (commonly used phrases or contexts in a contract) may be outdated, lifted from an situation that is inapplicable to your current problem, or mean something completely different than what you are expecting.
So…is the idea of a “Copy, Paste, and Go” contractual formation ever a good idea in a business setting where thousands or millions of dollars are potentially riding on the line?
Not unless you like giving away money because ultimately as my dad always said, “you get what you pay for.”