My First Rant

Friday, June 12, 2009

I have become an XM Radio listener. I enjoy being able to tune in the major news outlets like CNN, FOX and NPR, as well as some of the Sports Stations. Recently, I have begun to ocassionally enjoy the Comedy stations, too.

XM (and Sirius) once touted "commercial free" listening. While I liked that, the realist in me acknowledges that any service has to be somehow paid for, so I don't hold against them that they indeed advertise.

What I do find offensive is the onslaught of advertising (perhaps in other places too) of so-called Internet "Business Legal Services." You know the commercials:
"We aren't a law firm, but we were founded by lawyers." "Even my brother-in-law, the lawyer was astounded at how good the documents were." " We had it checked out by a nationally known professor at a Law School."
And so on.

I know.....this sounds, not only like a rant, but like whining about the competition. Frankly, I don't care about competition. I have been blessed (as I have previously mentioned on my Michigan Estate Planning Blog) with some truly wonderful relationships with other professionals and with many loyal clients. I am not concerned about competition. Indeed, my conservative political leanings lead me to continue to believe that competition is healthy. What I am concerned about is the misleading nature of these commercials--and the corresponding sites.

Sure, they provide documents (often reasonably well-written). Sure, they provide filing services with State Departments of Commerce (ironically, most states now offer direct filing services for the customer that would allow filing the documents without the assistance of the "dotcom" companies). What they do not do is give advice and counsel on which forms to file, and more importantly, why or why not. Nor do they do any analysis on whether the entity format is even correct for the client.
Forms are just that -- Forms. They do not think or analyze.
And, there is simply no "one-size-fits-all" legal entity or form. Nor is there any quick, shortcut to properly establishing a business entity. A business entity is not automatically properly created just by filing and signing forms. I cannot think of a worse result than for a client to believe it has been properly set up as a corporation or a limited liability company, to rely on that, only to find out too late that the protections or status sought are simply not there, because the job was not completed properly.

So there it is. My rant. I firmly believe these "services" do a great disservice both to business and to the professionals who advise businesses.



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