Using DIY Legal Templates In
Business Can Be Disastrous

Starting up and then operating a business can be costly, time-consuming, and challenging. The temptation is there to do things as quickly and inexpensively as possible. When it comes to creating legal documents, however, relying on downloadable PDFs or fill-in-the-blank online services can lead to significant issues for you and your business down the road.

There is no “one size fits all” solution to the legal requirements of your business. You may be tempted, for instance, to download a partnership agreement that uses broad brushstrokes but can never cover every nuance and potential pitfall once you begin operating your partnership.

Or, you may find an online service for creating a contract with a supplier of goods or services, but again, it will no doubt be so generally worded that, should a breach or dispute occur, you may find out that the contract is not enforceable.

If you’re planning to start a business or already are running one in or around San Francisco, California, don’t leave your legal fate in the hands of standardized legal forms. Rely on the Law Offices of David H. Schwartz, INC. for all your compliance and contractual needs. You’ll receive ongoing support as well as personalized attention to all the legal documents you need to successfully operate your business.

The Law Offices of David H. Schwartz, INC. serves clients not only in the San Francisco Bay Area, but also in San Jose, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Oakland, and all of Alameda County.

Reasons Not to Use DIY Legal Templates

A do-it-yourself (DIY) template cannot anticipate every potential legal challenge lying in your wake. And, as the phrase “do it yourself” indicates, you are serving as your own attorney when you turn to these online options. As Abraham Lincoln famously quipped, “He who represents himself has a fool for a client.”

These online template sites will not back you up with an attorney’s analysis or advice. Here is the disclaimer wording from one of the largest DIY legal template sites:

“We are not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. We cannot provide any kind of advice, explanation, opinion, or recommendation about possible legal rights, remedies, defenses, options, selection of forms or strategies.”

In other words, you are literally on your own when you create a DIY legal document. You may think it’s simpler and cheaper to organize as a corporation to help avoid liability for you and your business, but simply creating and filing a DIY form may get you recognized as a corporation in California, but then what? Have you ever considered the recordkeeping, bookkeeping, annual reporting, and legal requirements that accompany being a corporation?

Consider also that laws and regulations are constantly changing, regardless of the business structure you choose. The template service you use will likely not be concerned should you face new legal obligations or the need to revise a legal document. Only an attorney with whom you’ve established an ongoing relationship will have that kind of concern for you and your business.

If the DIY form fails to adequately address potential problems – for instance, your contract with a provider does not unambiguously state each party’s obligations – you can’t turn to the service that provided the template to remedy the situation. You will find yourself back at square one and seeking the guidance and counsel of an experienced attorney, which is where you should have begun in the beginning.

How an Experienced Attorney Can Help You

An attorney can foresee issues that you may not. Your involvement in your business may keep your focus on day-to-day operations while an attorney can anticipate the business life-cycle and help you protect yourself against possible future challenges. An experienced attorney can also craft ironclad documents that can survive legal challenges.

Attorney David Schwartz has more than 45 years of experience helping businesses survive and thrive in and around San Francisco, California. For all your legal needs, contact the Law Offices of David H. Schwartz, INC. Don’t cast your fate into the hands of faceless online DIY template services.


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