Find a Divorce Lawyer in Columbia Missouri – Columbia Divorce Attorney | Columbia Child Support Attorney
If you search online for “ divorce Columbia ” or “ divorce lawyer Columbia ” or maybe “ how to find a divorce lawyer in Columbia ,” you’ll get three general categories of search engine results: (1) online divorce mills, (2) me-too lawyer advertising platforms and (3) a few individual divorce lawyers in Boone County.
Let’s looks more closely at what each group offers you, the Boone County divorce consumer.
But first, I realize you’re thinking right off the bat that hiring a divorce lawyer in Columbia simply means higher fees and that you don’t need a lawyer for your simple uncontested case. I understand why you think those thoughts. Lawyers are generally not good business people and have often been their own worst enemies. And they’ve never really understood this Internet thing.
However, I ask you to set aside that thought as being partially incorrect these days. There are major disruptions going on in the legal profession, and they are to your advantage in your Boone County divorce. Read on and I will tell you how to keep your Boone County divorce costs as low as possible, avoid the huge risks of online divorce mills and protect your legal and economic interests locally right there in Columbia.
Online Divorce Mills
I won’t apologize for spending more time on online divorce mills than on me-too lawyer advertising or the few individual lawyers who manage to squeak into the top page or three of the search engine results. These divorce phonys are by far the biggest threat you face in your hiring decision. If you already get that, skip down to Me-Too Lawyer Advertising Platforms.
Online divorce mills offer slick websites, wicked-cool divorce software, fees lower than MOST lawyers, no legal advice, no legal knowledge, no professional licensing, no legal education, no code of ethics, no malpractice insurance, no knowledge of Missouri divorce procedures, no local knowledge about Boone County rules of court, local Boone County documents, local practices or the policies of individual local judges in the Columbia area and no professional interest in you or your case. And all within a completely unregulated Wild-West industry rampant with all kinds of incompetence, price fraud and up-selling.
Online divorce mill fees average about $300, only a little lower than the average “unbundled” Missouri divorce lawyer, but what you get for that $300 fee is remarkably little – just a few prepared Missouri divorce forms. Any other services offered are all up-sold on the basis that once they’ve got you hooked, what are you going to do – walk away from money already spent? You are at their mercy and you are completely unprotected.
The largest online divorce provider does not even provide a Marital Settlement Agreement, the most important doc in your case, for its $300 fee!
See the Online Divorce Association of America’s own website for a good overview of just some of the more common frauds and upsells to be found in the online divorce industry.
Following are a few, but by no means all, of the specific reasons to avoid the online divorce industry entirely:
MyDivorcePapers.com: Read here for a good article about one significant type of fraud in the online divorce mill industry – fake client testimonials. That article is a long and detailed investigation of how one major online divorce provider, mydivorcepapers.com, owns and operates its own “certified testimonial” website which fakes all of the client “testimonials” used to trick divorce consumers like you into hiring mydivorcepapers.com.
Their problem was that they are so dumb that they hosted the fake testimonial website on the same web server as mydivorcepapers.com. They also used a phone number on the testimonial site that they used on mydivorcepapers.com in the past and which can still be seen on old online copies of mydivorcepapers.com.
They also forgot about Google. They apparently never thought anyone would search for the name of their fake testimonial website. When you do so, you only get search results that include the fake testimonial site and mydivorcepapers.com. No other customer of the fake testimonial site shows up. In other words, you can tell from a simple Google search that the ONLY customer of the fake testimonial site is mydivorcepapers.com.
It’s actually a pretty funny story – until you realize that YOU are the target of mydivorcepapers.com’s fraud.
Mydivorcepapers.com still uses the fake testimonial site. However, since that particular fraud was exposed, they’ve moved on now to putting up fake review sites, instead of fake testimonial sites. Fake review sites pretend to review 8 or 10 online divorce mills (when they clearly have not – there are no screen shots of any secure area on any sites they claim to have reviewed – they didn’t want to spend any money) and always recommend mydivorcepapers.com. Here’s a prime example. None of these alleged “review” sites displays a phone number or an address. They all have proxy domain registrations so that you cannot find out who owns them. Why would an honest real professional review site have a secret domain registration? What would an honest “review” site be hiding from you?
In any event, all you need to know about mydivorcepapers.com can be seen in their 68 Better Business Complaints in the last year. If you read those complaints, you will notice a certain consistency. It’s all about price fraud, their lack of knowledge about local court policies, 10 or 12-day delays for EVERYTHING and up-selling on “premium” packages and “expedite fees.”
This is not to dump too much on mydivorcepapers.com. They are not the only frauds in the industry. It is just that they are where so many of the frauds in the industry come together.
GetDivorcePapers.com: Located in India. 36 Better Business Bureau complaints in the last 12 months and F-Rated by the BBB. Proxy registration. Clueless.
InstantOnlineDivorce.com: Located in India. No phone number displayed. Proxy Registration. Clueless.
LegalZoom.com/Wevorce: With so many BBB complaints against them, LegalZoom had to do something. So last year they brought in Wevorce, a foo-foo San Francisco divorce hipster site, to manage their divorce business. Their fees immediately went from $300 to $750.
A $750 fee and you don’t get a lawyer for that kind of money!?! Look at their website. They TELL YOU that everything is an upsell. Everything is more!! Lawyers at $149/hour? If you hire a lawyer at $149/hour for an uncontested case, you’re done before you get to $750. Don’t get caught by LegalZoom’s feel-good nonsense.
ALL online divorce mills:
If you hire an online divorce mill, you’ll always be dealing with low-level, untrained, disinterested, high turn-over staff, call center employees and folks in India or some other state. No one will conduct any type of analysis on your case to protect you and any minor children from future legal or financial damage. Client support will be terrible because it doesn’t have to be anything else. You will never be able to meet with anyone at an online divorce mill as it is very likely that none of them are located in Columbia or even in Boone County.
If you hire an online divorce mill to save yourself a few dollars and you and your family end up paying for their mistakes for years, that is NOT a cheap divorce!
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Avvo, LegalZoom, Justia, FindLaw and Yelp are all prominent in divorce searches online. They are all lawyer advertising platforms. They are free to sign up for and so all divorce lawyers in Columbia sign up for them – because they are desperate to get ANY work and again, it costs nothing. However, as soon as the lawyer signs up, s/he is bombarded with offers of greater exposure on the platform if s/he pays ever-increasing fees. It’s a never-ending winner-take-all treadmill where you have to pay more and more all the time to keep your internal rankings and ratings.
If every divorce lawyer in Boone County has signed up for these me-too services, what is the value to you of trying to find a Columbia divorce lawyer through one?
If you click on one of these search results, you’ll only see the me-too lawyers who continually pay more and more to get top level exposure. So how smart are those lawyers? They are driving their costs of doing business up constantly. There are no bargains for you at the me-too lawyer platforms.
To illustrate, an uncontested divorce without children at Avvo is $1000. With minor children, it’s $2000. Those expensive advertising platforms allow their subscribing lawyers only to do very limited, and not very cheap, unbundled services. Avvo’s imposed flat fee for an unbundled document review in an uncontested divorce without minor children is $500 plus $39 per 15-minute phone call. It should be about half that price. They don’t quite get it yet.
Me-too lawyer advertising platforms only benefit me-too lawyer advertising platforms. Me-too lawyers get some business if they pay up, but inevitably those who bid the highest (and charge the highest prices to be able to afford to bid the highest) get the bulk of the business. You don’t want a me-too lawyer handling your uncontested divorce. You want a lawyer who sets himself or herself apart from the lawyer-crowd, not one who joins the lawyer-crowd. You can do better than a me-too lawyer. Read on.
Local Columbia Divorce Lawyers:
If you took away the cost factor altogether, your divorce hiring decision would be a no-brainer. Columbia divorce lawyers are educated, locally licensed, subject to serious ethical rules and severe complaint procedures right in Missouri, are local to you and have local knowledge of Boone Countydivorce courts. If divorce lawyers in Columbia had maintained any kind of reasonable pricing model for their uncontested divorce fees over the last 20 – 30 years, the online divorce mills wouldn’t even exist. Or more precisely, they would exist but they would be owned and staffed by Missouri divorce lawyers, not out-of-state conmen.
Regrettably, lawyers’ poor business models, outrageously high fees and their stupid refusal to get dirty and compete with online divorce mills since about 2000, have destroyed almost all of their uncontested divorce business in Missouri. Most of what they get these days is complex or contested cases for fees in excess of $2500, often in excess of $5000. Columbia divorce lawyers have lost their core uncontested divorce business as well as the ethical up-selling of additional services to satisfied divorce clients in the future. Worse, most Columbia divorce lawyers refuse to understand that.
Well, things are finally changing in the Missouri divorce lawyer world. I want to draw your attention to three inter-connected developments that are to your advantage in your Columbia divorce hiring decision. But you have to know about these factors in order to take advantage of them. Again, lawyers are just not great promoters of their own business models. You have to know this stuff independently. They don’t tell you. They are still not very smart about promoting themselves or competing with other lawyers or the online divorce mills.
The three factors to keep in mind are:
- Unbundled Services Have Arrived: You no longer have to hire a lawyer on a full traditional representation basis in which you get screwed on a retainer fee and hourly rates for a lot of repetitive boiler-plate work or easy legwork that your lawyer delegates to a paralegal. Now, you can hire and use a lawyer just to do the legal review of your uncontested divorce in Columbia. You do the easy court-filing yourself and you arrange the easy service of process under the instruction of the Columbia divorce lawyer. You have the services of a lawyer ONLY where you need them. The Columbia divorce lawyer does your document review and your legal rights assessment and provides advice on any issues that arise.That’s why Columbia divorce lawyers don’t always advertise the availability of “unbundled” services. They think that by charging you unbundled fees, they’re losing money, but their choice is not unbundled or $5000. Their choice is unbundled (plus future ethical up-selling) or NOTHING. This is how smart most Boone County divorce lawyers are at business. #3 below changes all of this.
- Lawyers Now Have Wicked Cool Apps Too: Younger lawyers are internet-savvy and are using the cloud and powerful apps to make their services more efficient and more cost-effective. These efficiencies crunch the boilerplate and repetitive aspects of your case and do them much better and cheaper than a paralegal ever did. Columbia divorce lawyers can now actually compete directly with the best aspects of the online divorce mills. Remember that this is what the Internet was supposed to be.
- Too Many Lawyers: This is a big deal that many Missouri divorce lawyers are finally beginning to recognize. There is a glut of lawyers on the market and it’s serious. Think about it. Robotics, automation, the Internet and many other societal efficiencies are reducing the requirement for so many employees in so many different industries – not just fast food and auto manufacturing. Fewer employees across all industries mean fewer employee complaints and lawsuits that have to be defended by big corporations and their big law firms. Big Law is laying off lawyers like crazy. But law schools continue to churn out new lawyers who can’t find jobs in Big Law, where they want to be, and the American Bar Association has just certified yet another major law school!
According to the ABA National Lawyer Population Survey, in 2017, the whole legal profession has lost some 1400 jobs while almost 20,000 brand new lawyers have been added. And this has been trending for years.
At the same time, the American population is now relatively static. The demand for legal services has not grown anywhere near the supply of lawyers. And the Internet has reduced what used to be a huge knowledge gap between lawyers and their clients. Lawyers can no longer “sell” you basic legal information that they keep secret. So with too many brand new lawyers and with lawyers fired from Big Law now having to hang out their own shingles to crush the market even more, supply and demand alone is having a huge deflationary pressure on lawyers’ fees – particularly for relatively simple consumer legal services such as divorce.
From 1988 to 2012, the average solo lawyer practitioner’s yearly income, after adjusting for inflation, dropped from $70,747 to $49,130. Read that last sentence again. The legal profession is in serious decline. More so in areas of consumer law, like uncontested divorce, where the Internet has reduced the knowledge gap between lawyers and consumers. If you are a young and hungry lawyer who wants to participate in the divorce industry, you are under considerable pressure right now.
These 3 disruptive factors are synergistic. They complement each other. They are causing younger lone wolf lawyers with no other available options to rebel against the old guard and do things differently – unbundled services, divorce software, various virtual law practice techniques, better methods of advertising and delivering consumer law services and an eye to the Lifetime Value of clients to whom they can sell additional legal service later on – after they’ve completed their divorce work for you. Lawyers cannot normally solicit business, but when there has been a prior professional relationship, they can solicit business from you constantly. And that’s not a bad thing for you.
How to Use This Information in Your Columbia Divorce Lawyer Hiring Decision – Boone County Family Law Attorneys - Compare Top Family Lawyers - Boone County
So how do you, the Columbia, Missouri divorce consumer, take advantage of these developments in the legal profession in Columbia? It’s relatively easy. Do the searches mentioned in the first paragraph above. Write down the names and numbers of the first 10 or 20 local Columbia divorce lawyers (or Boone County divorce lawyers if there aren’t enough in Columbia). Yes, you might have to go as deep as a few pages in the search engine results. These are all local lawyers who at least are telling you that they want your business and are prepared to stand alone and be aggressive in the pursuit of their own business interests. Those are the type of Columbia divorce lawyers you want looking after your legal and economic interests, not the me-too Avvo crowd.
Call or email them, whichever best suits your style. Don’t go to see anyone until you are reasonably sure you’ve made your decision. Lawyers are persuasive. They will try to get you onto their offices. Stay out of their offices till you are ready to hire. Maybe just interview the final two in person.
Stay away from anyone with a non-shared office in a tall building downtown. Lawyers who are competitive in consumer law services like uncontested divorce don’t ride elevators unless they have shared offices. They have storefront offices or shared office arrangements.
Tell them when you call or email, if you believe it is true, that your case is uncontested. They will have questions about your situation. Answer them accurately, but also ask them right off the bat if they offer unbundled services in uncontested divorce cases like yours. If they do not respond positively, mention the phrase, “document review” to see if they will wake up. If they do not, never mind what they claim is their reason. Thank them politely for their time and move on. Don’t educate them. They don’t get it yet, and they shouldn’t get your business. Don’t waste your time.
Make a short list of those who do offer unbundled services. Make a special note of those who specifically talk about things like client portals, where you can log in and see what is happening in your case, and other cloud efficiencies. Shared office arrangements or virtual law practices where the lawyer will tell you s/he works from home are just fine. You are looking for such cost cutters. There is nothing unprofessional in meeting your Columbia divorce lawyer in a shared office or even a Starbucks area that is not too busy.
Compare their fees for unbundled service. Drill down on each of them so that you know what’s included. Make sure you’re comparing apples to apples. Some lawyers will limit your
communications in an unbundled case. They will say that for a certain flat fee you will get 3 phone calls and 5 email responses (or whatever). Don’t be afraid to ask what you get from them and what you will have to do on your own. Ask – even if you find this info on their websites. Make sure they tell you the same thing that is on their websites.
Once you get this far, your hiring decision really should be getting easier. You are looking for a lone-wolf Columbia divorce lawyer who uses divorce apps, offers a flat fee for unbundled document review in an uncontested divorce, does not have a big fancy office, speaks openly about virtual law practice techniques and seeks in his marketing outreach to set himself or herself apart from other local Columbia divorce lawyers.
Other Covered Local Areas Close To Columbia:Independence, Saint Louis, Kansas City, Springfield
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1-800-DIVORCE Like a Pro in Columbia Missouri – Is There a Shortcut to Your Columbia Divorce Lawyer Hiring Decision?
Is there anything you can do to automate or simplify this process? There may be. You are looking for a Columbia divorce lawyer who will doggedly fight for and protect your legal and economic interests.
Lawyers who sign up for exclusive services like 1-800-DIVORCE are not only demonstrating to you in advance that they want your business but also that they will take bold and decisive actions to obtain your business. This is not true for non-exclusive “me-too” lawyer services like Avvo, FindLaw, LegalZoom and Justia. You do not want to hire a Columbia divorce lawyer who simply stands in line with every other divorce lawyer in Boone County. You want a lawyer who represents himself or herself boldly because that means s/he will look after your interests the same way.
Go to 1-800-DIVORCE to see if there is just such a Columbia divorce lawyer.