The Rise of the Walmart Lawyer

First came the Legal Grind. Then came Chicago’s Legal Cafe. What’s next?  A prediction.

Walmart – or some other Mart – will contract with LegalZoom or an equivalent to re-sell their service, buying it wholesale and selling it retail. They will then place hungry, young, otherwise unemployed lawyers in small cubicles next to the bank & the tax preparer cubicles, paying Walmart wages, to await customers needing a will or a lease or some other simple legal work. The lawyer will briefly interview the customer to determine their need, then find the appropriate form on LegalWhatzis, help the client enter information and print the document out, and offer a brief explanation of the document. The customer (note – not “client”) will then whip out their debit card and pay Walmart for the LegalWhatzis service plus a service markup – with a voluminous disclaimer printed on the cash register receipt.

And, as Inspector Clouseau would say, voila! The customer has bought a LegalWhatzis document. Has a lawyer-client relationship has been established? Walmart has made a profit from re-marketing LegalZoom. Enter the Walmart divorce, the Walmart will – courtesy of LegalWhatzis.

Hyatt Legal Services, eat your heart out. And Bar Associations get ethics heartburn. Who is liable for malpractice? Walmart, the young hungry lawyer, LegalWhatzis?

And wither the young hungry? Double shifts in the sporting goods department and free chili dogs at the snack bar?