Good question, and the answer is often, maddeningly enough, “it depends on what you’re trying to accomplish.”

You may have seen ads on TV for a company called “LegalZoomwhich has over $100 Million in capital and sells legal forms online for things like simple wills and forming LLCs.

I’ve never tried to use LegalZoom, but my guess is, even with their non-lawyer customer assistance agents and “instructions”, figuring out how to use their forms is something like doing your own taxes. Simple if your financial matters are simple, but perplexing if you have to file some of the more complicated forms and schedules and have questions you (or the computer program you’re using) can’t answer. You might make mistakes, or be uncomfortable “going it alone”.

And if your take away the “high tech” computerized forms and 1-800 tech support (and we all know how variable that experience can be), LegalZoom isn’t all that different than what people who didn’t want to use a lawyer for simple matters always did. They can go to a stationery store and get “legal forms” from a company like Blumberg Forms and try to fill them out and hassle them themselves. Or go to the public library and read the statute laws and legal self-help books in the reference room.

I’m an attorney and have had years of law school and practice experience and will submit to you that if you can, you should seek assistance from an attorney, even if you can do something yourself. For the same reason that having a doctor to do an occasional physical or deal with some worrisome medical condition is better than trying to solve your problem with Google and WebMD (although those can be helpful resources if you’re not a hypochondriac).

You just don’t know what you don’t know, that’s the problem.

But sometimes, the fees and open-ended nature of traditional legal services makes you not want to go down that road to begin with.

That’s why I’m trying to do a low‑cost practice that allows for self‑help when you can do it and has me try to vet that you’re on the right track and help as required.

One recent example is helping a client with an eviction, where she, as an experienced landlord, bought the forms at a stationery store and served them herself, and I rode shotgun with her in court because she couldn’t represent her husband’s LLC.

Another example is forming LLCs which I can do quickly and help the owners personally with simple organizational questions in a few hours for a flat fee of about $300 plus filing fees, for a bottom line fee which isn’t much more than LegalZoom charges for just generating online forms.

My goal is to offer a fair price for my labor which is affordable and in the same rate ballpark as what my car mechanic or tree “surgeon” charges when I need their help with a job I can’t tackle myself (like the right axle seal on my Volvo wagon which is leaking).

The goal is giving my clients a lot more peace of mind and personal service than a legal forms website and their “call center” technical support can provide, but at a still affordable fee.