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Consumer Reports tests “robo-lawyers” Legal Zoom, Nolo and Rocket Lawyer. All flunk bar exam.

by Michael J. Evans 9-7-2012

Free legal forms are no match for a pro, says Consumer Reports

“Robo-Lawyers” Legal Zoom, Nolo and Rocket Lawyer flunk bar exam; create legal forms that could lead to “unintended results”

I’m happy that Consumer Reports recently tested the legal documents created by LegalZoom, Nolo, and Rocket Lawyer, and found that the websites were no substitute for a real lawyer. I often refer to these do-it-yourself legal websites as robo-lawyers.

There’s a reason the “€œrobo-lawyers” flunked the bar exam. To borrow a line from former President Bill Clinton, there is one-word answer: arithmetic.

Arithmetic, as in Moore’s law, which says that computing power doubles every eighteen months. So even investors in the Robo-Lawyer websites want to pretend that computers can use artificial intelligence to create documents just as well as a lawyer, that’s science fiction. In fact, it’s nonsense, as the Consumer Reports article proves. [Read more…]

Lawyers can’t be Luddites, ABA House of Delegates says

Are you a Luddite? Are your law partners Luddites? If so, the ABA House of Delegates just fired a warning shot across your bow.

Let’s first start with the definition of Luddite, a term with which some are unfamiliar.

Cultural Dictionary

Luddites  [lud-eyets)] (noun)

Opponents of the introduction of labor-saving machinery. The original Luddites, followers of a legendary Ned Ludd, were British laborers of the early nineteenth century who smashed textile-making machines that threatened their jobs.

Note : Contemporary opponents of technological change are sometimes called Luddites.

About six months ago I wrote a post titled “Are most lawyers Luddites?” It looks as if some members of the ABA House of Delegates have been asking the same question. [Read more…]

Google contest offers $25,000 of free cable TV advertising.

SearchEngineWatch.com is reporting that Google is sponsoring a contest with a grand prize of $25,000 of cable television advertising.  Contestants create a 30 second or 60 second spot and upload it to the YouTube channel “TV for all contest.” You can even make the ad for free using SpotMixer.com.  The deadline for submission is October 5, 2009.  Viewers will vote, and 3 winners will be announced October 30, 2009.

This appears to be a good way for Google to call attention to the TV ad service it now offers through its AdWords program.  A MediaPost article reports that Google has teamed with SpotMixer to allow advertisers to create video ads to be displayed on the Google Content Network.  SpotMixer’s platform automatically converts an advertiser’s existing AdWords text ad into a tailored video ad within the advertiser’s AdWords account.  Earlier this year, SpotMixer launched a self-serve video ad creation service for Google AdWords customers to produce and distribute cable TV ads via Google TV Ads.

Lawyers who have been tempted to dip their toes into the TV advertising pool now have a way of giving it a try on a limited budget.  But the chance of a lawyer ad winning the $25,000 grand prize?  I’m pretty skeptical about that.

Crowdsourcing – As cool as it sounds

I read the book Crowdsourcing by Jeff Howe a few months ago, and I heartily recommend it.  The full title of the book is Crowdsourcing: Why the Power of the Crowd is Driving the Future of Business. Howe is a contributing editor at Wired magazine, and he gave some great examples of companies posting projects or problems on the Internet, with a reasonable monetary award being paid to the person who comes up with the best solution.  Thousands of people from all over the world enter some  of these competitions.  Large corporations have started using Crowdsourcing to find solutions that formerly eluded them altogether, or which would have cost them much more than the “award” ultimately paid to the winner of the Crowdsourcing contest.

I have just taken the Crowdsourcing plunge.  I mentioned in a previous post that I’m working with others to create a blatantly pro-consumer news site: ConsumerNews.com.  About 36 hours ago I posted a request for a logo on crowdSpring.com, a popular Crowdsourcing site that has lots of creative people such as web designers and graphics pros.  The results so far have been impressive.  The site lets me rate the submissions and provide comments or suggestions to the creative folks.  It also lets members of the public vote on which design they like the best.  At the end of a 4-7 day period (you pick the number of days), you choose the design you like best.  It’s not unusual for a project to receive more than 80 proposed designs.

If you have the time, head over to crowdSPRING.com and vote on which logo you like best for ConsumerNews.com.  You may even decide you would like to try a little Crowdsourcing with your next project.

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