This article from the Sacramento Bee (12/26/05) reports on a new service by Legal Zoom: online preparation of a small claims case. According to the article, for $99.00, the company will draft up a small claims complaint based on an online questionnaire and for $60 more, will serve the defendant as well.
So why would an attorney support this service? Because, I sometimes get calls from clients who want to sue for a small home improvement matter or wages owed and from an economic perspective, it’s not worth it for them to have to pay even $300 (which is two hours of almost any attorney’s time) to recover maybe $800. But they might be willing to pay $150 to bring the suit themselves and not have to wrestle with legal forms and figuring out service of process.
Of course, that’s not to say that services like Legal Zoom should only
be provided by non-attorneys. Is there some way that you can make this
concept work for your firm? Can you use small claims cases as a loss
leader or as cases that law clerks can handle? My feeling is that if
someone is able to make money off low end legal services, why shouldn’t
it just as well be us attorneys?