Monday, April 21, 2014

Pro Se You Say

The other day I passed a telephone poll with the usual posters and ads and then I saw one that had Legal help for flat fees.  Clearly aimed to those who cannot afford current legal rates I wondered if it was legitimate.  I checked, it was.

The simple reality is that America is in a crisis when it comes to the law and access to the courts. We have in place precedent setting cases that do protect and serve indigent Defendants in criminal cases but we have few for Civil plaintiffs.

I had and interesting "exchange" with an Attorney on his blog discussing the Yelp site for Attorney's Avvo.  The idea behind it is to provide access to information by asking legal questions for free and ostensibly finding representation or at least some type of guidance when it comes to legal matters.  It like many many Internet sites has massive funding and backing by one of the original founders of Expedia and now Zillow so therefore it is good.  If you have used it you will realize not so much.

Of course this Attorney ranted as it uselessness and I agreed. There is not one question responded to that doesn't have "you need an Attorney"  Yes I do and if I had one I would not be on this site. If you actually put that qualifier on your questions, don't expect them to be answered. That was the extent of our agreement as being both an Attorney and AWM (angry white male) it degenerated into the ad hominem attacks as he felt I was attacking his profession and in turn his penis size.

Ironically he proved my point that many attorney's are like assholes and everyone has an opinion and asshole, Attorney's seem to have double the pleasure and fun when it comes to that.   I have yet to actually encounter an Attorney who simply speaks the truth and is an honest dignified individual (well I have and he laughingly said "I'm an asshole." Well there you go)   It is inherent to their profession apparently to treat people as shit being the asshole they are it makes sense.

Once in a blue moon there will be one person on any of these "ask a Lawyer" site willing to try to answer your inquires. But to be honest you need to be vague and generalized as anyone puts their name and detailed questions with regards to their case/situation is foolish.  That is a public forum and given today's increasing violation and in turn exploitation of privacy, anyone,  especially an Attorney, should be cautious as to providing too much detail.  So why this site exists is simply just another version of Yelp and we all know how valid that site is or isn't.

And then I heard of this:

Boston Startup Empowers Litigants As Legal Community Fails To Meet The Needs Of The Middle Class 
Hiring a lawyer has become increasingly cost-prohibitive for the majority of Americans as the average private attorney now charges $284.00 per hour. Despite a seemingly endless supply of new attorneys graduating each year, every-day issues like evictions, DUI’s and simple domestic matters cost litigants thousands of dollars in fees; fees the overwhelming majority of Americans can’t afford. 
Today iLaw announces its launch. In an effort to fulfill the needs of thousands of pro se litigants nation-wide, the company offers entertaining, engaging, online video training for state-specific and topic-specific areas: from how to beat a speeding ticket in Massachusetts to how to handle your DUI in California.  
 The videos, assembled by practicing attorneys, provide litigants a comprehensive step-by-step process of how to approach and handle their specific legal situation along with common forms used to effectuate a favorable outcome 
After absorbing an hour of training videos and reviewing the course materials, litigants are in a position to handle their legal issue pro se. Or, at the very least, after going through training, users will be better educated before determining their own fate: whether it be retaining counsel or representing themselves in court. 
What differentiates iLaw from other national self-help legal offerings is the particularity of the taught subject matter, which is not only highly topic-specific but also state-specific. For example, laws and procedure on evicting a non-paying tenant are state specific, sometimes even court-specific. iLaw’s training videos are prepared by attorneys who have demonstrated a lengthy history representing clients in these specific jurisdictions. 
Furthermore, the materials are only marketed to individuals in certain states, not nation-wide. 
“What we’re trying to do is satiate the needs of a fraction of the millions of self-represented litigants across the country. This is a growing market the legal industry can no longer afford to ignore” says founder John Keramaris. "This is real disruption, not continued propping up of law firms and their current business model." 
About iLaw:
iLaw was founded by general practice attorney John Keramaris. A complete list of iLaw current offerings includes: Massachusetts Speeding Ticket Defense, How to Get Your Massachusetts Security Deposit Back, Post-Foreclosure Eviction Defense in Massachusetts, DIY California DUI Defense and How to Evict Your Massachusetts Tenant.
There are a lot of problems with this as it is very generic. And there is a clear need to actually sit down and understand that each case is quite specific and in turn you will find that Courts are not welcome to the pro se litigant/defendant.  

I like the idea of it but it is another band aid that has no sticking power.   But with the good of intention.... anything to "disrupt" the status quo of the monopoly that Attorney's have in the Courts can't be all bad.  Give the next AWM a big hi for me.   I learned that talking to a Lawyer is like arguing with one - a waste of time.


  1. I'm the founder of iLaw. I found your blog post through google alerts. I'd love to walk you through some of our products and have you try them. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

    And yes, I understand we're just a bandaid, but pro se litigants need to understand the fundamentals of the Court Process as it relates to their case. Feel free to message me at info_at_ilawlearning_dot_com

  2. I would love to try your products but the simple fact is I live in Washington State so you cannot help me. But if you can and do help anyone I want to hear about it, what it was about and the end result. If WalMart is smartly adding legal services in their Canadian stores then we need them here and we need them ASAP