The provision of standard legal templates to consumers for a flat rate fee is becoming increasingly common.
However, as we wrote a few months ago, although it may appear to be the more economical option at the outset, DIY legal documents will usually end up costing much more of your 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 or to get your head around the problem you are trying to solve, you may want to start from a template and then seek professional legal advice. Bear in mind that the size of a transaction doesn’t necessarily reflect its complexity, and unless you have the appropriate level of experience you will certainly benefit from obtaining proper legal advice.
Most of our lawyers come from entrepreneurial backgrounds and so we understand that seeking professional legal advice isn’t always an option, and some protection is almost certainly better than none. However, there are certain circumstances in which we recommend always seeking legal advice, such as:
- When preparing a will and you have considerable assets and/or a complex family situation;
- Where you are involved in a transaction worth a substantial amount;
- Where you are involved in a transaction which has tax implications;
- When you are forming a company; and/or
- When you are granting or selling securities of any kind (such as shares or units).