The Experiment Part II: Lawdepot.com Employment Contract

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This is the second posting in a series about an employment contract that I purchased through lawdepot.com, an online legal document website much like legalzoom.com. As I wrote in my first posting, I am going to write about the agreement that I purchased and analyze its quality.

No Legal Advice Given

First of all, the lawdepot.com makes it clear that it is not providing legal advice. On the FAQ page, it is stated:

We provide general legal information. We also do not draft or tailor the contract for the person’s specific fact situation. The individual customer must decide for themselves which contract best suits their own needs and must decide for themselves what information to provide on the various question pages in preparing their own document. While we make it easy for a customer to know how to complete the questions and to make informed decisions, it is the customer that makes those choices.

Take that, any potential malpractice claims! The site stresses that the client makes the legal decisions, not the site, even though the client is clearly not a lawyer and has no legal knowledge to make informed decisions. You must chose what is to be included in your document and so can’t blame lawdepot.com for giving you bad advice or if anything goes wrong.

However, in my case, I made few choices that would classify as legal decisions. Instead, I chose how long my employee would work for me, his or her salary, the length of the non-compete agreement and the law that would apply. These are not legal decisions. The legal decisions were made by the site when it (or rather its lawyers) chose to include certain provisions regarding termination, overtime or other legal matters. You as the customer are given no choice about most of the provisions that you want in the agreement you want to include. I would say that this constitutes legal advice, regardless of what the site claims.

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Discussion

  1. jobs in online  March 9, 2010

    nice post.
    can I have more post?

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  2. Cindy Perusse  March 10, 2010

    Karen, thanks to you and Greg Luce for doing these “experiments.” I’ve always wondered about these legal form sites.

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    • Karen Lundquist  March 11, 2010

      Thanks, Cindy! I enjoyed writing the article and checking out the document. I am glad that you have found it useful.

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  3. Layne Jeffery  March 11, 2010

    I have to take issue with a potion of their disclaimer stating, “we make it easy for a customer to know how to complete the questions and to make informed decisions, it is the customer that makes those choices.”
    As a transactional attorney, what I typically do when drafting contracts for clients is make it easy for a client to answer the proper questions, and from those answers, I help them make informed decisions. It is the client that aways makes the decisions based upon my help. It seems to me that these online services are essentially doing the same. They ask directed questions and based upon the client’s answer, they stear them through the decision. Yet, at the end of the day, the client makes an “informed” decision. Yet if we help the client do this, we risk malpractice. Am I off base on this?

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    • Karen Lundquist  March 11, 2010

      I would agree, but lawdepot.com doesn’t even provide assistance in making informed decisions. I never received any assistance, not even a suggestion that I speak with an attorney or review on my own my state’s law regarding overtime or disability discrimination (that is my next post). The website has made these decisions for the consumers on what to include, with the exception of a few provisions.

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