So you think you can draft your own documents, please think again

Recently I’ve read about “unbundling” legal services to allow clients to do certain tasks on their own and like everyone who listens to the radio, I’ve also heard the ads for companies that provide legal document templates for people and quickly point out they don’t provide legal advice.

As a lawyer I find this frustrating and frankly misleading. Unbundling is supposed to reduce legal costs to a client, but that makes the presumption that the only consideration for preparing legal documents is cost: that is dead wrong.

While many business documents can appear to be “boiler plate” to non-lawyers, that is not correct. Yes, there are certain paragraphs that are always going to be in Articles of Incorporation, however, there are also certain paragraphs that must be framed in the way that meets your particular corporation’s needs.

If you are not a lawyer, you won’t know which paragraphs need to be specific and you certainly won’t be aware of the most recent Court decisions that impacts how even the “standard” paragraphs are worded.

Having a well drafted business document by a lawyer is a fraction of the cost of fighting a lawsuit to try to have the meaning you intended, but didn’t draft correctly because you’re not a lawyer, enforced.

Let me put this very plainly: it will usually cost $ 2 500.00 to have a shareholders agreement prepared by our firm, unless it is an unusual situation.

The cost to handle a lawsuit between two fighting shareholders is generally $ 20 000.00 to $ 50 000.00. You decide which fee it makes more sense to pay.

Inga B. Andriessen JD