Nolo Review: Can You Handle Legal Matters On Your Own?
If you've ever had to fork over a hefty lawyer's fee for a seemingly simple legal matter, you may have wondered if you would have fared better handling the issue yourself.
Every year millions of people attempt to represent themselves in our court systems. In some states, as many as 80 to 90% of cases report a self-represented “pro se litigant“.
In today's digital world, the plethora of online legal sources makes it possible to obtain legal forms and filing instructions without any formal legal training. Any novice can access Nolo.com, a website well-known for legal documents, terminology, and more.
But, before making any legal decisions that might affect your record or your pocketbook, it's important that you know the facts.
Read on for our complete Nolo review and for tips to help you weigh the risks and benefits of representing yourself in practically any legal matter!
- 1 Nolo Review: Can You Handle Legal Matters On Your Own?
- 1.1 The High Price of Professional Legal Services Cause Many to Look for Cheaper Alternatives
- 1.2 How Does Nolo Measure Up? Your Complete Nolo Review
- 1.3 Nolo: The Advantages of Online Legal Assistance
- 1.4 1. Cost: Online Legal Help is Substantially Cheaper Than an Attorney
- 1.5 2. Many Legal Forms are Available at Your Fingertips
- 1.6 3. What Nolo Does Best
- 1.7 4. Nolo Offers an Extensive Legal Directory
- 1.8 Disadvantages: Nolo vs Obtaining Legal Representation
- 1.9 1. Unknown Limitations
- 1.10 2. Nolo May Not Be a Sufficient Source to Prepare for Litigation
- 1.11 3. Nolo Can Be a Helpful Resource, But It Doesn't Qualify You as a Legal Expert
- 1.12 4. The Legal System Contains Many Hidden Complications
- 1.13 5. Nolo Does Not Take Responsibility for Providing Legal Advice or Services
- 1.14 The Takeaway: Nolo Can Be a Valuable Tool for Both Clients and Attorneys, But…
The High Price of Professional Legal Services Cause Many to Look for Cheaper Alternatives
The next time you're presented with a legal issue, you might be tempted to resort to self-representation. This is often the case for those who can't afford the cost to obtain an attorney.
In 2017, 70% of low-income households in America had some sort of civil legal problem, ranging from divorce to housing disputes, according to the Legal Services Corporation. However, in our civil court system, individuals are not guaranteed the right to legal representation. This means that 86% of people in these cases simply cannot afford professional legal services.
Many people believe that legal websites, such as Nolo, offer an alternative solution to obtaining pricey professional legal services.
Many of us would prefer not to pay for an attorney if it is not absolutely necessary. While others, as mentioned above, can't afford to pay a lawyer's fee anyway.
How Does Nolo Measure Up? Your Complete Nolo Review
Research shows that self-represented litigants may be subject to bias and other disadvantages when navigating the court system. But, is it always necessary to have a lawyer? Or, is it possible, with the help of Nolo, to handle some legal matters on your own?
We decided to find out how Nolo measures up in lieu of obtaining professional legal assistance.
Here are some of the pros and cons of using Nolo's legal website to represent yourself in judicial matters.
Nolo: The Advantages of Online Legal Assistance
At first glance, it might seem that you can get all you need to navigate the legal system via the internet. After all, many legal websites advertise do-it-yourself legal services.
With careful consideration, there are several advantages to the legal help that's offered online.
1. Cost: Online Legal Help is Substantially Cheaper Than an Attorney
Of course, one of the primary disadvantages of hiring a lawyer is the expense, which is one of the main reasons that online legal sites have soared in popularity.
No one wants to pay for a service that can be had for free, or almost free. And, there are circumstances when the legal services obtained online actually can suffice.
Beware of hidden costs, however. Nolo, like many legal websites, offers minimal information without incurring a cost for their services. And, if you aren't careful, these costs can stack up quickly and result in a price similar to what you might pay an attorney who is performing all of the legwork for you.
2. Many Legal Forms are Available at Your Fingertips
Nolo (as well as some of the other legal websites) offers a wide range of legal forms that are available for download. Better yet, these forms often are accompanied with complete filing instructions. And, they cost just a few dollars (as opposed to the few thousand dollars you might pay a local attorney for the same services).
Practically any form you need is available through Nolo's site, and the website also typically publishes easy-to-understand explanations and instructions to help guide you through reading, filling out the form, and understanding the ramifications relevant to the legal action associated with forms.
They also offer many state-specific forms when applicable.
3. What Nolo Does Best
Individual and small business consumer reviews reveal that Nolo is best for obtaining legal forms, information regarding specific business law, and legal definitions that may pertain to your situation.
If you know exactly what you need to perform a simple legal task, or if you are searching for specific information pertaining to legal matters, Nolo might be the solution that you're looking for.
However, if you are seeking representation in the court of law, or have been issued a lawsuit or another legal request, you might be better off consulting an expert attorney instead.
4. Nolo Offers an Extensive Legal Directory
Nolo can help you locate the right professional legal services to handle your case.
The Nolo online directory includes a wide range of lawyers and law firms, organized by area of expertise. For attorneys, it can be a great online tool to market your firm to local consumers.
Their business guide offers a comprehensive profile for attorneys so you can find the right kind of lawyer for your case in a location that's convenient for you.
Disadvantages: Nolo vs Obtaining Legal Representation
If you're considering using Nolo or a similar site as a substitute for obtaining legal representation, there are a few things that you should think about prior to making a final decision.
1. Unknown Limitations
There may be limitations to the legal advice that's available online. First, the information accessible on the internet tends to apply to the majority of similarly-grouped cases, but it may not apply to yours.
You have no way to explain any circumstances pertaining to your personal legal matter if it falls outside of the realm of most generic relevant situations. This can create potential confusion, especially if you happen to be unaware of any specific legalities applying to your case.
Also, if you don't understand the law completely, you may have trouble applying the correct elements to your own case. It's also easy to become confused when comparing similar statutes or state-specific laws that may not apply to the example noted on the site you're consulting.
It's important to note that just one misstep in legal proceedings can cause a case to be dismissed, which means that you would have to start the entire process over from scratch.
The bottom line: Legal matters that are anything other than direct representations of those illustrated on the website may not be applicable to your case.
2. Nolo May Not Be a Sufficient Source to Prepare for Litigation
There are times when it pays to have a professional attorney representing you in legal matters.
One study shows that when New York tenants represent themselves in eviction cases, they lose in court 90% of the time. However, the study found that when New York tenants have a lawyer representing them in eviction cases, they win 90% of the time.
This is just one of the many examples that illustrate the potential disadvantages you might encounter without professional legal representation.
If you are looking for answers to legal questions or for laws that may apply to your case Nolo can be a big help. But, if you need legal representation to protect you from serious, life-changing consequences, it's probably best to seek the advice of a legal expert.
If you choose to proceed on your own accord, you might not find the information readily available online to be sufficient. At least, it probably should not be the sole support for an argument in the courtroom.
3. Nolo Can Be a Helpful Resource, But It Doesn't Qualify You as a Legal Expert
If you are using online legal sites, such as Nolo, to find out more about a specific topic or to access forms, it can be a valuable resource. But, most of the time the content published on Nolo's site should only be considered supplementary to the information you'll need to gain a full understanding of a legal matter.
You are unlikely to find a wide range of research, complete filing instructions, and all of the laws and guidelines pertaining to a legal issue.
In order to adequately represent yourself, there may be more to know than what Nolo can offer. And, there's a chance that you won't know what you might be missing based on the website's information on a subject alone.
Attorneys spend many years learning what they need to know to provide professional legal services.
It may be unrealistic to expect Nolo's website to provide training that's comparable to that of a professional lawyer. The information that Nolo provides on their site doesn't qualify you as a legal expert in any particular area.
There's a chance that the site might have the information you need to represent yourself in a simple legal matter. But, there's also a chance that it won't. And, you could find that there's more to the issue than what appears on Nolo, even if it seems to cover a subject completely.
If you're going to use Nolo as a resource, it's a good idea to consult additional sources as well before attempting to navigate a legal matter on your own.
4. The Legal System Contains Many Hidden Complications
The legal system can be complicated, and in some cases using a legal website could place you at a substantial disadvantage.
In one study, researchers found approximately 200 hidden tasks that litigants must perform in civil court cases. That's almost 200 tasks that are necessary for court but aren't obvious to the average person. In this study, the researchers also focused only on civil cases.
If you were to take a look at the criminal court system, there is likely even more obstacles for individuals who choose self-representation.
Although Nolo offers a large amount of legal information for its users, there are many insider tips that lawyers need to provide adequate representation in court.
5. Nolo Does Not Take Responsibility for Providing Legal Advice or Services
Unlike an attorney, Nolo can't dispense legal advice, or advise you on your particular case.
If you are looking for professional legal advice, you might be better off consulting a lawyer who can answer any questions you might have. Attorneys can help you know how to handle your situation so that you receive the best possible outcome.
While Nolo is available for individuals seeking legal self-help, the website is clear that they do not offer legal advice and is not operated by a law firm. In fact, the Nolo disclaimer specifically recommends that its users seek professional legal advice to verify that the information on their site is accurate and useful.
The Takeaway: Nolo Can Be a Valuable Tool for Both Clients and Attorneys, But…
To sum up our Nolo review, the Nolo website can be a valuable tool for both clients seeking legal information and for attorneys who want to connect with local clients.
If you are using the site as a resource for self-representation in a legal matter, you should take caution. It may not be able to adequately provide the information necessary to fairly represent yourself in court.
For legal professionals, the site can be a great marketing tool. If you happen to be an attorney, you should consider Nolo as a way to connect with individuals in your area who may be seeking your services.
The internet may not take the place of professional legal advice, but it does make it possible to obtain more information than ever before on practically any subject. And, it also offers endless marketing opportunities for legal professionals and other businesses.
Want to find out how the web can help boost your professional reach?
Contact us today to learn about digital marketing strategies to grow your business!