Are Online Legal Forms A Good Idea?

Let's face it--lawyers can be expensive. Online forms and low-cost online legal help have become increasingly popular. When a transaction seems routine or you trust the person with whom you are entering into a contractual relationship, these online resources are tempting and you may want to print off free or low-cost documents from the internet.

Unfortunately, like many things in life, you get what you pay for.

Many people find out the hard way that cookie-cutter contracts and forms are problematic. Even worse, the cost of fixing the problem is sometimes more than what it would have cost to draft a customized form in the first place. At Chenoweth Law Group we have helped clients find their way through costly litigation resulting from the use of pre-printed forms or online legal resources.

Issues With Boilerplate Contracts

Cost is a major reason why online contracts are so popular. Many generic contracts can be purchased online. The price varies greatly depending on the type of contract. Many contracts are available for a couple hundred dollars or less, and in some cases, they are free.

Unfortunately, many of these cheap, one-size-fits-all forms turn out to be problematic. Here are some potential issues that may arise:

  • The wrong form: Often, business owners do not know what kind of form they need. They may choose the wrong form entirely or one that doesn't directly apply.
  • Quality is a concern: It is difficult to gauge the quality of an online form. It may or may not have been written by an attorney. It won't contain specific language specific to the unique aspects of a deal. These are issues that can cause major problems down the road.
  • Forms may be outdated: Online forms and contracts may not be up-to-date with current laws and court decisions. It can sometimes be impossible to tell if an online contract contradicts current laws.
  • Forms may be state specific: Laws often vary from state to state. An online form may be state specific, and may not apply to the state in which the preparer lives or operates a business.

A generic contract or form can expose a business or individual to major problems down the road.

Spending some time and money on the front end to create customized forms can help businesses avoid potential litigation in the future. An experienced business attorney can help draft tailor-made contracts specific to the needs of a particular individual or business. Call us at 503-446-6261.

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Portland, OR 97204

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