The Pitfalls of DItY Legal Information Websites

The internet has created access to information that was unthinkable a generation ago.  That access has provided the motivated DItYer with the ability to tackle almost as many issues as they have the time to handle: with easy instructions on home improvement and repairs, to learning how to play that elusive musical instrument.  

There are a wealth of legal assistance websites as well.  If you look hard enough, somewhere on these websites you will find a disclaimer which provides something to the effect of: “We are not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm.”  We should applaud their honesty. 

So, what are the pitfalls of getting legal advice that really isn’t legal advice? They are many.  Here are a few: 

Legal Advice v. Legal Information– No matter how robust a computer program is, it cannot take the place of an experienced attorney who is listening to your specific facts and circumstances. An online service cannot provide you with personalized, professional legal advice. And, as their disclaimers state, they do not pretend to do so.  

Laws Are not Specific to Where You Live – While there are federal laws that applies to all citizens, most of the laws that apply to your specific legal needs come from the state or even local levels.  For example, there is no federal probate law.  Likewise, the laws that govern business formation, maintenance, and contracts are almost exclusively state laws.  Even for the federal laws that may apply, the federal courts are divided into regional jurisdictions.  That may result in a federal law being interpreted and applied differently depending on where you live or work.  Moreover, online programs or “DIY planning kits” are not equipped to decipher the nuances of your particular circumstances.  Nor do they claim to be able to do this. 

Lack of Support – In addition to the lack of personalized service and information, you may end up paying for something that you cannot use.  Or worse, use something that is inadequate, which leads to larger issues.  In addition to the disclaimer that these sites don’t offer legal advice, many also contain disclaimers on warranties or guarantees that their products will meet your needs.  


If your legal concerns are important enough to take up your time, they are likely important enough to warrant a free consultation call.  If we think you can do it yourself, or you would be better served with a non-legal professional, we would be happy to let you know. 

Ready to about your specific estate planning or business law needs?  Contact CASHMAN LAW today for a free consultation to see how we might help you define and achieve your legacy goals. 

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The contents of this blog are intended to convey general information only and not to provide legal advice or opinions. The posting and viewing of the information on this blog, should not be construed as, and should not be relied upon for, legal or tax advice in any particular circumstance or fact situation. While effort is taken to update the information presented, it may not reflect the most current legal developments. Please contact CASHMAN LAW FIRM LLLC (Hawai’i)/ CASHMAN LAW LC (California) to consult with an attorney for advice on specific legal issues.