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Nolo.com: legal info, forms & lawyer directory

January 28, 2011 10 comments

Nolo (www.nolo.com) is an organization dedicated to making the law accessible to everyone.  It provides information on diverse areas of the law, including articles written by lawyers on topics like accidents and injuries, bankruptcy, criminal law, family law, employment law, immigration, and wills, trusts, and estate planning.  For example, there is an article on the expungement of criminal records (http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/article-32641.html).  Such articles provide a good starting point to learn the basics on certain topics, but unfortunately, due to variations between jurisdictions, these articles are necessarily general in scope (e.g., it suggests that readers start by checking with their county’s criminal court or the law enforcement agency that handled their arrests, but does not provide more specific information or links to other relevant websites).

The website also provides relatively low-cost online legal forms and downloadable software.  In many of the articles, when you want further information, they link you to other pages to buy downloadable software, books, or online application forms.  For instance, the online form to create your own will has prices starting at $41.97 (http://www.nolo.com/products/nolos-online-will-NNWILL.html).  While such forms are a viable option for many people, even such costs may be prohibitively expensive for others.

In addition, the website includes a lawyer directory via the “Find a Lawyer” link in the top right-hand corner (and sometimes in the right-hand margin), through which you can view the profile of lawyers in particular practice areas in your geographic area who have taken “the Nolo pledge” to provide professional and respectful service (http://www.nolo.com/lawyers/our-pledge.html).  Like the legal forms described above, although retention of paid legal counsel is often desired, it is not an option for many low-income people.  For an organization dedicated to making the law accessible to everyone, it could improve its website by also providing information on free legal services so that those who qualify for free legal aid are informed about it.