Product Review: Lawyer’s PC
California Bar Journal, Embarking on a Virtual Odyssey, Ultimately to Save Money, by Diane Curtis.
“Richard Granat believes that attorneys who lag behind in using technology are denying themselves access to what he calls “a large latent market” worth billions of dollars of middle-income clients who can’t afford the high hourly rates of many law firms. That group, he says, head to the Internet first for business resources and are looking for alternatives to current legal billing practices. Eighty percent of Americans don’t even have a will, he says, a hint that the broad middle class might improve that statistic if lawyers made it easier and cheaper to get one.”
American Bar Association Journal, OnLine Office Makers: Helping Others Create Virtual Practices, October, 2009
“The concept appeals to firms that want to position themselves to capture a generation coming up that will only want to deal with lawyers over the Internet,” Richard Granat says, ” For the general practice law firm in areas like family law these concepts will mainstream.”
American Bar Association Journal, Legal Rebel’s Project, Profile: Richard S. Granat, September 2009. “Granat is absolutely beyond cutting edge.” Susan Erlichman, Executive Director, Maryland Legal Services Corporation.
One of the biggest drawbacks to an online will is that a professional hasn’t reviewed the documents, says Granat. If that worries you, hire an attorney to review what you have done online. He should be current on any new laws in your state.
However, a law could have changed without the online site updating its information. It’s also possible that the online form you choose may not be the right one for your situation.
“You are buying something without a warranty, as is,” says Granat. “If there’s something wrong with it, even with one small mistake, you’re taking a risk. But if a lawyer drafts the will, he stands behind his documents.”
The Good Enough Revolution: When Cheap and Simple is Just Fine, by Robert Capps, WIRED Magazine, September 2009.
“Richard Granat is a pioneer in a field called elawyering. It shouldn’t be confused with web sites that merely offer legal documents for downloading, Granat explains. Elawyering involves actual lawyers, and clients who use these services get help sorting through legal issues.
Granat, who runs his own law firm and co-chairs the American Bar Association’s task force on elawyering, has designed and marketed a number of web tools that walk people through common legal procedures. He created a child-support calculator, for example, which assists couples going through relatively amicable divorces. There’s also a tool to help people decide whether they need Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. These widgets then generate legal forms, which may be reviewed by a licensed attorney who can make suggestions or offer advice over the phone.
It turns out to be a remarkably efficient way of offering what Granat calls legal transaction services—tasks that are document intensive. For everything from wills to adoptions to shareholder agreements, elawyering has numerous advantages. It’s cheaper, for example; a no-fault divorce, Granat says, might run a fifth of what seeing an attorney would cost. It’s also faster—customers can access the tools anytime and never have to interrupt their day to meet with someone in a distant office. Simply put, elawyering makes certain legal services more accessible.”