In the end, we all arrive at the same destination. No matter who we are, eventually, we all pass on. When that day arrives, we won’t be able to take our worldly possessions with us. But we can leave behind something that dictates who gets our stuff. That document, known as a last will & testament, has traditionally been drafted by lawyers.
However, like most things in the 21st century, technology has now disrupted this process. Over the past decade, online will makers have emerged as tech-savvy Millennials begin to search for solutions online.
Are will creation services (and other legal services) going completely online? Or are some parts of the profession immune to digitization? We’ll explore this issue in-depth in today’s blog.
Yes – Online Will Creators are a Thing Now
It’s been more than 25 years since the World Wide Web made its debut. In that time, the list of industries affected by digitization has been getting progressively longer. It started with music, then video, then online shopping.
Now, the year is 2021, and online entrepreneurs now have their sights set on a new target – will-drafting lawyers. That’s right – you can now visit a website and get a legally binding last will & testament.
To be clear, online will makers offer the same basic services as traditional providers. Paid options guide you through the process, while free sites offer you the form (and leave the rest to you). That way, you save money, as well as the time you’d otherwise spend in traffic/sitting in a lawyer’s office.
Curious about online will makers? Check out these 2021 reviews, as they offer an accurate picture of their offerings.
And It’s Not Just Wills That Are Going Online…
If you’re a lawyer that does NOT specialize in wills, you might be sighing in relief. Don’t – the same online entrepreneurs that digitized will creation are repeating the process for every other legal document out there.
From bills of sale to rental applications, online legal document clearinghouses make it cheap & easy to secure these forms. For instance, you can find legally binding non-compete agreements, power of attorney forms, and eviction notices on eForms – for free.
So, if you depend on legal form sales for a significant portion of your business – you may want to start panicking. But if you’re a consumer, these online legal services could save you a ton of headaches.
Will Online Legal Services Ruin the Offline Legal Industry?
So, is it an open-and-shut case? Are law firms about to suffer massive losses as consumers move online? Not really – at worst, firms that specialize in estate planning may suffer a temporary drop in revenue. But, like many businesses in these current times, they’ll pivot to other roles.
Online will makers and providers of online legal services may offer cheap/free documents. However, when it comes to professional guidance and complex situations, they often fall short. This reality has left an opening for estate planning lawyers.
By positioning themselves as experts, they can sell their counsel to confused online consumers. Thanks to the power of Zoom, their clients needn’t leave their home – they can receive sage advice wherever they are.
At the end of the day, estate planning lawyers will be fine. But spare a thought for hard-working paralegals and support staff, as it’s these folks that do much of the document preparation work. As online legal services become more of a thing, their roles will come under increasing pressure.
But the lawyers themselves? Not having to prepare documents will free them to focus on higher-value tasks. For them, this shift will be a positive one.
The Next Revolution – Will AI Replace Lawyers Altogether?
The shifting of labor-intensive tasks (like will creation) online may actually benefit lawyers. But will they survive the coming AI revolution? Firms will be just fine, but some lawyers could find themselves on the outside looking in.
Here’s the issue – upon close inspection, the law effectively resembles computer code. Many aspects of the law follow an if/then/else structure. On top of this, years of inefficiencies have backlogged the legal system with an intimidating caseload.
By replacing certain areas of the law with an algorithm, cases that took weeks/months to get before the courts could be resolved in days. As soon as the public embraces this form of automation, it will spread to other sectors.
As it does, the need for human legal representation will decline. Don’t think it can happen? Don’t kid yourself – it’s happening right now. In 2016, a chat-bot called DoNotPay launched in the UK and the USA. That year, the program successfully overturned 160,000 parking tickets in both London and NYC.
While technological progress is often exponential, humans think in linear terms. Sadly, the early stages of exponential growth curves appear linear. Then, a short time later, the line goes parabolic, catching people off-guard.
Will the same scenario play out in the legal profession? Only time will tell, but we wouldn’t bet against Moore’s Law.
Online Solutions Are Making Legal Services Cheaper/Easier Than Ever
If you’ve put off drafting a will due to high legal costs, it’s time to revisit those plans. Over the past decade, online will makers have driven costs down substantially. What used to cost hundreds (or thousands) of dollars can now be done for less than $100.
Whatever your document needs are, online legal services can satisfy them for cheap/free.