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Free online legal forms drafted by Robo-Lawyers – a brief note

Online legal form websites – a follow-up

In addition to my post las night about the Consumer Reports’ review of online legal form websites, I’ve issued two press releases on the subject:

I strongly believe that these Robo-Lawyer sites are a major consumer issue, and the Consumer Reports review gives us a chance to educate the public about the potential pitfalls of these sites offering free or cheap online legal forms. Tangentially, it’s also an attorney marketing issue, because these sites are taking clients away from lawyers.

But the main problem I have with the Robo-Lawyers is that they can cause tremendous harm to their customers by creating important legal documents that may, or may not, be valid. For example, if your father wanted you to receive certain assets when he died, would you feel comfortable relying on a will created by an elderly non-lawyer using a form found on the Internet.

Because I feel so strongly about this issue, I’m asking for lawyers to serve as guest bloggers about the pitfalls of online forms. If your law practice involves creating legal documents that can be obtained free or at low-cost from a Robo-Lawyer website, please contact me. I want to find some lawyers who can write a blog post for my this blog, giving concrete examples of the potential pitfalls of these Robo-Lawyer websites. And I may use portions of the guest blog posts in press releases to spread the word to as many consumers as possible.

Google and the Gulf oil spill at BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig

I’ve recently been blogging (with some help) about the Gulf oil spill at BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig. When I started the blog, I was struck by the fact that there were no pay-per-click lawyer ads when I used Google News to search for articles. But that changed in a hurry. Within a couple of days the lawyer ads began emerging in an ever escalating war to sign up claimants. When mass tort ad campaigns such as this start, I’m usually either involved in it professionally or I follow the campaigns because I find them interesting and, sometimes, educational. As of the time that I’m writing this post, there are seven law firm ads displayed on Google News when you run a “BP oil spill” or “Gulf oil spill” search. Seven law firms and one almost unnoticeable ad by BP.

Perhaps it’s the technology geek in me, or my interest in Internt marketing, but I enjoyed comparing the ads. The lawyer ads all utilized the top line of the ad well, with large blue letters proclaiming something such as “Gulf Oil Spill Lawsuit” or “BP Oil Spill Lawsuit.” BP’s ad, by comparison, simply said “Spill” on the top line. It’s as if they are ashamed to be associated with it, and don’t want to admit which particular “spill” it is they are talking about. But if BP is too embarrassed to shout out its message in a way that competes with the lawyer ads, why even buy an ad on Google? And if BP, a company which had profits of $6.1 billion in the first quarter of 2010, wants to run an ad on Google, why doesn’t it bid high enough to rank higher than sixth out of eight ads?

Somehow the fact that BP is inept in handling its PR makes me even less confident of its ability and intention to clean up the mess it’s making in the Gulf. I’ve written more at about BP’s poor PR, including its waffling and refusal to commit to pay for damages caused by the Gulf oil spill. You can also follow my posts about the Gulf oil spill at Facebook and on Twitter @bpoilnews.

Crowdsourcing solutions for the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico

We’ve got 3 new posts at about the use of social media and crowdsourcing to empower the public to help with the oil spill at BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf. The Louisiana Governor’s Homeland Security Department has an active Twitter account (@GOHSEP)that is well-used, and the Louisiana Bucket Brigade is using crowdsourcing to map locations where oil has been observed. At BPOilNews, we were surprised to find ourselves crowdsourcing possible solutions for stopping the oil flow or limiting the damage to shorelines. [Read more…]

BP’s “greenwashing” vs. their actual record of lawsuits, fines and criminal convictions

I’ve posted a new article at about BP’s history of lawsuits, fines and criminal convictions for oil spills and other safety and environmental violations. I was surprised to discover just how bad BP’s record actually is. Here are the first two paragraphs:

By now we’re all familiar with the latest national environmental crisis. An explosion on the Deepwater Horizon, a BP offshore oil drilling rig, caused the deaths of 11 workers, injured 7 more, and left an oil spill the size of Rhode Island drifting inexorably toward the Gulf Coast. But this isn’t the first time that BP has been responsible for an environmental crisis, or the first time that they’ve attempted to change the narrative when accused of environmental malfeasance. [Read more…]

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