Walmart Legal Services Coming to Your Neighborhood?
Since they sell just about everything else, it probably shouldn't shock anyone that Walmart has started providing legal services. According to an article from the ABA Journal, Walmart is offering legal services in stores around Toronto. So will you be able to hire a lawyer at a Walmart in your neighborhood in the near future? Time will tell.
The article states the lawyers at Walmart will charge $99 for a simple will which probably isn't a bad deal if it is done right. Like many big box stores I think they offer some really great deals so customers will assume everything is a steal, yet then charge inflated prices on some items. With Walmart's reputation and marketing customers may assume everything is a good deal and they don't bother to do comparison shopping. I'm guilty of making that assumption. That is what may be happening with their legal services. For example, Walmart will be charging $25 to notarize a document which sounds like a ripoff to me. If anyone needs a document notarized just stop by my office and not only will we notarize it for free we will offer you a cup of coffee while we're at it. We like visitors!
I assume the business model will be similar to the optometrist, pharmacist, tax prep, etc. offered at Walmart. Now, I'm all for making legal services more accessible to people of modest to moderate means. That's why I've been volunteering at Legal Aid for 15 years. If they provide quality legal services to people who might not otherwise be able to afford a lawyer then this could be a good thing. The key questions in my mind are will Walmart be interfering with the judgment of the lawyers? What will they do with more complex matters (not all wills are simple)? Will they take the time to provide individualized legal services or will it be a cookie cutter operation? Most importantly, how competent are the lawyers?
More curious will be whether they will do employment law, worker's comp, slip and fall, and other types of claims Walmart employees and customers file against Walmart?
We'll see whether Walmart starts offering legal services in the U.S. In the meantime, save your $25 and swing by my office if you need a document notarized. If you need a will prepared I'll be happy to refer you to a great lawyer who will do it at a reasonable price. Even without Walmart's "rollbacks," getting quality legal services does not need to break the bank.