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The Perils of Do-It-Yourself Internet Law

There is an unmistakable trend revealing itself in growing numbers of new cases: the “Instant Internet Lawyer.” This term refers to a growing corps of do-it-yourself amateur attorneys who believe that a few hours of web research, aided and abetted perhaps with discussions with total strangers on blogs, they are qualified to handle their own legal matters. Internet or no Internet, the old rule still applies: a person who handles his or her own legal matter has a fool for a client.

This maxim simply underlines the fact that legal matters are often complex, sophisticated problems involving issues and/or ramifications that a layperson may not be able to effectively deal with.

To those tempted to exercise false economy by avoiding the services of a good attorney in legal matters, it should be pointed out what you are giving up. An attorney has not only a law degree, but almost always a full four-year degree or more. Attorneys must get an acceptable score on the Law School Admission Test just to get into law school. Tough grading in law schools wash out as much as half of those who enroll. No more than half of law school graduates pass the Bar Exam, and fewer still pass it the first time.

Finally, each successful Bar Exam applicant must undergo a rigorous background check – similar to a vetting for a government security clearance – in addition to passing the Bar Exam. Of course, this is just the start of an attorney’s training. Years of practice provide an attorney with the priceless experience needed to counsel clients not only with accurate and reliable advice, but also with wisdom and sound judgment.

The point is, would you rather gamble the outcome of your legal matter on an amateur, do-it-yourself inquiry on the Internet, or seek the profoundly greater knowledge, experience, and objective counsel of a seasoned professional? Those who elect to ignore the obvious choice and venture into the vastly complex world of the law and its application are taking their fate into their own hands, perhaps with irremediable results.