You can find legal forms and advice online. How helpful is this information to a non-lawyer?
Here’s an accurate, lawyerly answer that most everyone hates: it depends. Is the information reliable? Current? Complete? Applicable to your state? Suited to your circumstances? The best expression of your options and risks? Does it inform your negotiating position? Do you know how innocuous legal phrases like, “best efforts” affect your obligations? What’s missing from the information?
For most non-lawyers, the honest answer to these questions is, “How am I supposed to know?”
Exactly. You’re not supposed to know. And you probably don’t.
Here’s an example of how a company can get into trouble with an Internet only, cut-and-paste approach to legal documents. Say a company needs a privacy notice for its website. The company gets one from another company’s website or a legal form site and sticks the notice on its website. Problem is, the notice doesn’t disclose all the ways the company gathers, uses, and discloses information about its website visitors and makes statements about its cybersecurity measures that are not true. To the Federal Trade Commission and the attorneys general of several states, the inaccurate notice probably represents a deceptive (if not unfair) trade practice. It might well have been better for the company to have had no privacy notice at all.
The Internet is a good starting point for non-lawyers to get basic legal information. But stopping there without consulting with a lawyer is risky. Don’t take the risk if you can help it.
ABOUT DAVID GREBER
Mr. Greber’s extensive business law experience includes representation of companies and corporations in all stages of their business life-cycle, from initial founding, through growth and expansion, to sale. His intellectual property law background includes the registration and protection of copyrights, trademarks, and trade secrets. Mr. Greber’s estate planning experience includes drafting complex trusts and wills, powers of attorney, advanced directives, and living wills.
ABOUT OFFIT KURMAN
Offit Kurman is one of the fastest-growing, full-service law firms in the Mid-Atlantic region. With over 140 attorneys offering a comprehensive range of services in virtually every legal category, the firm is well positioned to meet the needs of dynamic businesses and the people who own and operate them. Our eleven offices serve individual and corporate clients in the Virginia, Washington, DC, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York City regions. At Offit Kurman, we are our clients’ most trusted legal advisors, professionals who help maximize and protect business value and personal wealth. In every interaction, we consistently maintain our clients’ confidence by remaining focused on furthering their objectives and achieving their goals in an efficient manner. Trust, knowledge, confidence—in a partner, that’s perfect.
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