Attorneys Vs. Online Legal Websites: How Do You Choose in North Carolina?

In the battle between hiring an attorney or using a ‘do it yourself’ legal services website, who comes out on top? When you factor in all concerns such as cost, legality, personal contact and quality, what it really comes down to is getting what you pay for. As a Business Litigation and Estates attorney in Charlotte, North Carolina, I am often asked by potential clients why they should hire me and pay more when they can use online sites, such as Legal Zoom, and save money. Although using online legal services may seem like the fast, easy and inexpensive thing to do, there are many reasons why going to an attorney is the better option and the winner of this battle.

Personal Contact

The first factor to take into consideration is personal contact. When meeting with an attorney compared to logging on to a website, you are able to build a relationship. With this relationship, your attorney learns about you and your needs and will be able to assist you beyond your original expectations. An attorney is also able to determine if your needs are something you wouldn’t have even considered. For example, if you think you need a copyright, you can go to an online service and plug in what you need, and you will instantly get a copyright. If you go to an attorney with the same need, you might find out you actually need a patent and not a copyright. Without this personal contact, you may not get what you actually need, and in the end, you’ll end up wasting time and money. Unfortunately, this personal touch is not available through online services.


The next aspect to consider is quality. With online sites, a person fills out a basic template and a product is produced. How was your information transformed into the final product? Who knows, but it certainly is not tailored to your exact needs. When you hire an attorney, not only do we work side by side with you to ensure you understand all steps in the process, but we also customize and tailor everything to fit your individual needs. For example, when preparing your Will, there are many complexities that a website cannot ascertain by having you answer a blanket questionnaire. When you hire an attorney, we work with you to answer any questions and ensure your family is protected. A Will is your last chance to be heard and allowing a website to generate this document is not wise.


The price differential is probably the main reason patrons use online legal services over hiring an attorney. Unfortunately, as the saying goes, you get what you pay for. By working with an actual attorney, the overall price may be a bit higher, but you can be assured that you’ll get exactly what you are looking for and exactly what you need. Furthermore, your attorney is only a phone call away, so if you have any questions or concerns throughout the process, you know there is always someone there to answer them.


The final thing to take into consideration when choosing who you want to represent you is legality. As shown in a recent article by the News and Observer, the North Carolina State Bar has decided to take on the leading online legal center, Legal Zoom, questioning whether or not their actions constituted the unauthorized practice of law. As a response, the company said that there were inaccuracies in the State Bar’s claims, stressing that its services are automated and don’t involve legal advice. So whether or not the site’s practice is authorized, Legal Zoom admitted their services are automated, and thus confirmed all points listed above.