What LegalZoom and the media have in common: anonymous sources

Anonymous sources play an important but controversial role in a free press.  Guaranteeing anonymity to a source makes it possible for the press to get and to publish information that would otherwise be hidden from public view, information that citizens as citizens or consumers ought to have.  Anonymity, however, disconnects the source from responsibility for the information he provides and therein lies a fundamental risk that the information is false or unreliable or intended to manipulate rather than educate the public.

LegalZoom, in seeking to “…Put The Law On Your Side,” provides a great deal of information about law with the evident intent that its customers rely on that information, especially its legal forms for estate planning, divorce, business formation and patent office filings.  Who gives LegalZoom its “knowledge” of the law which it in turn offers to its customers?  Where do LegalZoom’s forms come from?  Who drafts the forms that LegalZoom uses to prepare the legal documents it sells and delivers to its customers?  

Just as the media uses vague language to describe anonymous sources – a high level administration official – LegalZoom uses similar language to induce reliance on the legal information, including legal documents, that it sells.  For example,

1.  LegalZoom was developed by expert attorneys with experience at the most prestigious law firms in the country.

2.  Experience You Can Trust

Developed by expert attorneys with experience at the most prestigious law firms in the country, LegalZoom has helped over 400,000 satisfied customers take care of common legal matters. Our extensive knowledge of federal, state and county laws allows us to prepare your legal documents quickly and efficiently. Plus, our documents contain advanced provisions not found in simple “do-it-yourself” kits or manuals.

3.     Now you have instant access to the most common forms you need. Top attorneys create, review and update all of our forms. In addition, each form includes detailed instruction on how and when to use it.

4.     Save time and money with high-quality legal forms crafted by top attorneys

5.     To make LegalZoom the best legal document service on the web, we assembled a team of legal experts, including retired  judges and law school professors. All of our forms were developed by experienced attorneys, so you can be sure that our documents are dependable.

 Lots of positive, descriptive words:  legal experts, top attorneys, retired judges and law school professors, expert attorneys with experience at the most prestigious law firms in the country, our extensive knowledge federal, state and county laws …….

But no names. No one willing to have their names and their professional reputations as practicing lawyers or retired judges or law professors attached to the legal documents LegalZoom assures its potential customers are dependable.