The legal profession is, slowly but surely, being dragged into the technological era. The provision of standard legal templates to consumers for a flat rate fee, or even for free is becoming increasingly common.
Although it may appear to be the more economical option at the outset, DIY legal documents will usually end up costing you much more time, effort and money than getting a customised set of legal documents prepared by a legal professional from the outset.
Websites are popping up at an incredible rate promising a range of legal documents and templates that claim to be “just like the ones that lawyers use” and/or prepared by lawyers. The first issue with these template documents is that there is no quality control. Many are mediocre in terms of their substance, language and guidance and without the right experience you have no way of choosing between them or indeed what the right document for your needs actually is. Secondly, even if you do get a higher quality template, these documents are written to be as broad and non-specific as possible and are unlikely to adequately protect your interests.
For start-ups or others on a tight budget and/or schedule we recommend that you start from a template and then seek professional legal advice to settle it.
As a rule of thumb, you should always seek legal advice where you are:
- involved in a transaction worth a substantial amount;
- involved in a transaction which has tax implications;
- forming a company; and/or
- granting or selling securities of any kind (such as shares or units).
If you are on a tight budget, you should work with a startup lawyer to ascertain which documents you ought to invest in and which ones you can get by with a template with in the meantime.