Frequently Asked Questions about the Platform
If you don't find answers to your questions here, visit our dedicated
DirectLaw Support portal.
Use our helpful Knowledge Base or
send your specific questions to us, and we'll promptly respond.
What is DirectLaw's pricing structure?
The DirectLaw® Virtual Law Firm Platform is licensed on a monthly subscription basis with a 30-day minimum term. No long-term contracts required, and no set-up fees. DirectLaw® offers two (2) subscription choices.
DirectLaw® Basic starts at $49/month for a solo practitioner and includes up to 10 automated documents, and our ClientSpace™ (client portal) features.
DirectLaw® Complete starts at $199/month for a solo practitioner and includes all of the client portal features of Basic, PLUS our document automation functionalities: access to libraries of automated state-specific documents; Attorney WorkSpace, which enables you to assemble documents for off-line, in-house clients; and the document authoring system (Rapidocs Author) to create your own automated documents and use/sell them via your platform. DirectLaw®
*Firms in excess of four (4) attorneys, please contact us for a custom quote.
FREE WEB SITE
Subscribe to DirectLaw ClientSpace™ Complete, and we'll include a free web site or redesign your existing web site. 12-month term required; $49/month thereafter. No other discounts apply.
A free listing in www.DirectLawConnect.com, our consumer portal and online directory of virtual law firms, is included with a Basic or Complete subscription.
Click here for additional details on our free web site offer.
NEW LAWYERS AND SOLO START UPS
We offer discounted subscription packages for new lawyers during their first year of practice, and an introductory special offer for start-up solos.
What's included in the cost?
The ongoing monthly fee covers hosting, maintenance, development of new features and enhancements, plus all legal document content updating for documents included with DirectLaw® Complete.
DirectLaw® Complete also includes access to Attorney WorkSpace for the quick and efficient in-house preparation of complex documents using Rapidocs.
What is the total cost of DirectLaw® integration and use?
The total cost of DirectLaw® is dependent on the subscription package you choose, and the number of attorneys in your firm. Firms in excess of four (4) attorneys, please contact us for a custom quote. Nominal document usage fees are also assessed on several of our most complex documents, i.e., divorce, wills, when sold via your site/platform. See DirectLaw ClientSpace™ Complete for detailed info on document usage fees.
How is the monthly subscription paid to DirectLaw?
DirectLaw will obtain your credit card information to process payment of your monthly subscription fees. Credit card billing is automatically done every thirty (30) days. The 30-day period begins one day after you sign up for a subscription program. If you sign up on June 1, your next bill is due on July 2. Your initial payment (paid at sign up) is applied to the first month's billing.
IMPORTANT NOTICE: Credit Card Expirations or Decline Notices
If your credit card is declined, or we are unable to process your monthly charge/fee for any reason, we immediately notify you via e-mail so you may resolve the problem.
Our billing system is designed to attempt to process any outstanding charges during the current billing cycle until they are successfully processed. Any amounts not charged during the current billing cycle will be automatically added to the next monthly billing cycle. If the issue with a declined charge is not resolved by the end of the 2nd billing cycle, your platform will be automatically deactivated at the end of that billing cycle.
If your account is terminated/deactivated and your platform is shut down, you will continue to be responsible for payment of the balance of the term of your contract. DirectLaw will send the amount payable for the balance of the term of your Agreement to a collections attorney to collect this debt.
If your account is deactivated for non-payment, you can restore it by paying the balance of the months due on your hosting agreement (contract) in advance.
How long will it take to set up DirectLaw® for my firm?
DirectLaw® setup is quick and easy -- your virtual law firm platform is created at purchase. Immediately following purchase, you will receive an e-mail containing your firm-specific DirectLaw Web Hosting & Web Services Agreement; links to the main sections of your platform; and detailed information on how to brand and integrate your platform.
An easy-to-use interface is provided for you to "brand" the pages of your platform with your law firm logo/graphic. You may also set colors and fonts to match your web site look and feel. Integrating the platform is easy too. When you're ready, simply place the hyperlink(s) to your platform behind the text or navigation buttons/bars on your own site. For example, create a "Register Here" button/text on your web site, and link it to the registration page on your platform. Create a "Client Login" button or text and link it to the secure, client login page on your platform.
You will choose a username and password at sign up, which is used to access your Attorney Dashboard -- the administrative control panel for managing your virtual law firm platform. Your username/password may be changed at any time via the My Account tab on your Attorney Dashboard.
Can DirectLaw® be integrated with my existing law firm web site?
Absolutely! In fact, that is how we largely expect the platform to be used. You could use the DirectLaw® platform as a standalone site if you wish, but it is not recommended. The platform is designed to be integrated within your own site, and to maintain your branding across both. You will be able to determine the prices of each service using the Customize Store tab on your Attorney Dashboard. If you need further assistance, we are always here to help.
What do we need to get started?
All you need is a page on your web site (a landing page) to host links to your DirectLaw® platform. Usually this is the home page, but can also include other subpages on your site for ease of navigation and to encourage visitors to take action. We will provide the links you need to embed on your site. When you've added your logo/graphics to your platform and link it to your web site, the transition from your site to the platform pages is seamless. Your clients will be unaware of the difference, and it will appear that the functionality associated with the platform is part of your own law firm web site. If you are not sure how this works, don’t worry. We are here to help and provide you with technical assistance. Click here for additional information on how to integrate the DirectLaw® platform with your web site.
How customizable is the DirectLaw® platform?
Very. You have full control over the range of documents and legal services you want to offer, which include commercial controls such as setting pricing, as well as associated options and discount schemes, so that you can provide your online services exactly how you want to. Site customization also allows for some basic branding and color matching with your existing web site, along with textual edits of instruction pages, terms and conditions and limited retainer agreements. Our team is happy to discuss your vision and brainstorm on how best to use the platform with your practice areas and overall goals in mind. Do not hesitate to contact us.
Client payment options
Am I required to post pricing on my web site when using the DirectLaw® platform?
No. The DirectLaw® platform is structured to be flexible, and the client-facing, e-commerce payment module is optional. If you don’t want to take payments online -- or you don't want to post pricing and leave it open for quoting custom fees -- you can use your DirectLaw® platform as a free-to-access service. This is a service where no fees are shown, and you simply direct clients to how/where they can undertake the initial document interview and create the first draft, or otherwise provide guidance on how to proceed with their matter using your firm. This approach allows you flexibility on pricing while maintaining or improving your margin, and offering a cutting-edge web presence. Even if you choose to leave pricing off the site, you are always free to use DirectLaw's Legal Invoicing function to enable clients to pay legal bills/invoices via online credit card payment through the client space.
How is online payment handled?
Sales generated when a client purchases a legal service/document are processed by Chase Paymentech, one of the largest credit card processors in the world. Chase charges a 2.8% processing fee which is deducted from the amount received from your client. We simply pass this fee on to your law firm, without a mark-up. Payments from fees collected from clients are direct deposited into your bank account every other Monday (bi-weekly), based on the prior two (2) weeks' sales. Payments are processed by Bank of America electronically. We can deposit funds into your general operating account or your trust account. You can list both accounts for deposit. In order to activate direct deposit, your direct deposit information must be on file. You must complete this Direct Deposit Form and send via our secure fax at 888-592-9907. After your payment information has been sent to Bank of America, we destroy this form and do not retain your bank account information.
What's best for my firm – a fixed-fee, online payment or 'free-to access’ site?
This depends on how you would like your online service to work – both approaches have their advantages. Broadly speaking, a site with e-commerce facilities and posted pricing offers an immediacy and transparent fixed-fee pricing which clients find appealing, whereas a ‘free-to-access’ site allows you to price your services for individual clients.
How does the purchase of an automated document work (applies to Rapidocs-based documents only)?
After registration and purchase, the client will complete an online questionnaire and submit it to the firm. The firm retrieves the submitted questionnaire within the Doc Prep tab of the Attorney Dashboard. The questionnaire is reviewed in the left-hand panel of the screen, with the assembled set of documents displayed in the right-hand side of the screen, driven by Rapidocs. Edits can be made by the firm in two ways -- directly within the client's Rapidocs questionnaire, and also after export to MS Word or other word processing program. At the point where a document is exported from Rapidocs, it is fully customizable. When finalized, the document is uploaded directly to the client's secure space and ready for download, complete with instructions. DirectLaw recommends that firms convert any Word or modifiable version of documents to .pdf format to prevent editing by the end user. NOTE: PDF converter programs such as Adobe Acrobat or ScanSoft are not included with DirectLaw's platform. Alternatively, you can ask the client to come into to the office for a face-to face discussion at the point of document handover.
Can I give prospective clients a "Try Before You Buy" option?
Yes. We offer an alternate setup whereas prospective clients may register and access their online document questionnaire prior to submitting payment to the firm. In this scenario, the client may begin work on a questionnaire, but cannot submit it to the firm until payment is made. Clients are able to save a partially completed questionnaire and return to it at any time to edit and proceed. This gives them a chance to gather any missing information or to consider their options, without losing the time investment they have already made. And, if they are just at the stage when they are undecided about the law firm they want to use, it gives them a reason to return to your site. Please contact us if you'd like to use this alternate setup.
Compliance: Ethics Issues
Is DirectLaw® compliant?
Yes. DirectLaw, Inc. is has in-house expertise in the delivery of online legal services, and we have been particularly careful to ensure that the DirectLaw® platform is fully compliant for use by law firms. Click here to review our more detailed FAQ on ethics issues.
Is the payment process compliant?
Yes. If you choose to offer your clients the option of paying online, then you will have to set a fixed fee for each of your services.
Can I edit the standard Terms & Conditions and Limited Services Agreement that appear on my platform?
Yes. The standard Terms & Conditions and Limited Services Agreement text is included on your DirectLaw platform and was written with the delivery mechanism of the services in mind. However, feel free to send us revised or customized text if you wish. We would recommend discussing the requirements with us, as we can advise on best matching your terms with the technology that the platform offers.
How does the system handle conflict checks?
The DirectLaw® platform itself does not automatically conduct a conflicts check. However, it does capture the information you need to feed into your existing conflicts check processes. It remains your responsibility to perform a conflicts check on all of your clients, regardless of the fact that they have initially come to you through your web site.
How can I perform a mental capacity check online?
If you are concerned about the mental capacity of a client, we advocate that you do not return the document to them online via your platform. If you wish, it is very simple to retain the document after you have completed your review and edit, and insist that the client comes into your office for final review/payment/signature. There are specific mechanisms in the DirectLaw interface for allowing and managing this.
Can a client see or access a document prior to or without attorney review?
Not if you don’t want them to. There are a whole range of "switchable" settings within DirectLaw to allow you to precisely control what the client can see, and what they can do, at each step of the journey. For example: Our "questionnaire-only" model is used as a standard setup and does not allow clients to see a "live" draft or the document creation itself • Obscuring controls allow the client to see, but not use, a draft in progress • The client cannot access the document while it is with you for review or conflicts and ML checks • You can decide to return the online document in a non-editable format such as a .PDF.
Legal Document Libraries
How are the online document templates provided? What is Rapidocs?
What is Rapidocs? Rapidocs® is a web-enabled document automation solution developed and published by The Epoq Group, based in London, U.K. It is a leading document automation solution that has been used to generate thousands of legal documents a month in both the United States and the United Kingdom from both law firm and institutional web sites. First introduced in 2000 as a Windows desktop application, Rapidocs® today is a fully functional, web-enabled system that presents questionnaires for completion through the web browser (i.e., Internet Explorer, etc.). Assembled documents are exported in either rich text format (.rtf) for use with Microsoft Word (or similar word processing program) or portable data format (.pdf) for use with Adobe. Additional details can be found at our Rapidocs® web site. Rapidocs® document automation technology works by asking the user a series of questions. Based on the answers provided to these questions, the document is tailored to the relevant circumstances. Each document is exceptionally complex, with all relevant legal clauses contained within it, and the answers supplied will edit the document to add or remove clauses as the question session continues - some Rapidocs® templates can create literally thousands of possible combinations of clauses to create a truly customized first draft. This provides an enormous amount of flexibility, and allows for the creation of a vastly superior, more personalized document than is possible with a simple 'flat-form'. Our legal document templates are provided using Rapidocs, our automated web-enabled document assembly system.
Do we have to write or develop the legal templates?
No. All the online templates that are the basis for the documents are provided by DirectLaw. There is also no need to create separate questionnaires to go with the documents. The Rapidocs template drives both the Questionnaire functionality/presentation and the document assembly.
Who writes the Rapidocs document templates?
All of our documents are researched and written by our team of expert lawyers and paralegals, who constantly review and update the existing legal form content and add new templates and options on a regular basis. We have a dedicated and expansive team working on our legal form content and have been honing our online templates for over a decade.
Are HotDocs® templates easily converted into Rapidocs® templates?
No. At the present time, a HotDocs® template is not easily converted into a Rapidocs® template. However, the sale of HotDocs®-developed forms and documents are also enabled via the DirectLaw platform. This functionality has been added in response to many requests from law firms that have already invested in the development of HotDocs® templates that work on the desktop, but are not web-enabled. Serving HotDocs® Questionnaires through the DirectLaw platform enables clients to generate a document from a HotDocs Questionnaire that appears within the web browser (online). The assembled document is then ready for further review, analysis, and revision by the attorney via the DirectLaw Attorney Dashboard. Presently, clients must use the MS Explorer web browser to assemble a HotDocs template. However, the next scheduled release of HotDocs® will enable templates to be assembled online using either the Safari or Firefox web browsers. Please visit this page for special pricing information for a HotDocs® deployment. HotDocs® is a registered trademark of HotDocs Limited
Can we change the legal templates or develop our own?
If you have documents or legal forms that you would like automated and published on your own web site so you can take advantage of Rapidocs benefits and time saving features, you can author the documents yourself using Rapidocs Author, our authoring system. We can also create automated documents for you using your content. When we automate your documents for you, we charge either an hourly development fee or a fixed price, depending on the complexity of the legal document(s) or legal form(s).
You can also sell your own, non-Rapidocs documents via the platform. Please visit this page for information on how you can sell your own documents:
Can I use the templates to prepare offline documents (i.e., use Rapidocs in-house)?
Yes, you can. Attorney WorkSpace is another application that enables you to prepare documents for in-house clients, as distinguished from clients who would rather complete on online questionnaire. This option is available for clients who don't feel comfortable using the Internet for one reason or another or simply prefer to meet with you face-to-face. This feature is included at no extra cost with your DirectLaw Complete subscription.
Can DirectLaw help me position or market my online service?
Yes. We can help you set up you own Google "pay-per-click" campaign and suggest ways to make your front-end web site "findable" on the web. We can advise on strategies for using your web site to its best advantage and to appeal to your market. In addition, DirectLaw is in contact with a wide network of specialists in SEO, PPC and online marketing techniques, and so even if we can’t help directly, we can certainly advise firms on the right people to get in touch to take your site forward.
One of the most important facets of a hosted, web-based application service is the need to separate and safeguard the confidentiality of client data. Security and privacy are paramount. DirectLaw® has implemented numerous measures to ensure the confidentiality and security of your clients’ data. Our solution is hosted in a highly secure environment, protected by encryption and authentication in a hardened, protected site.
The DirectLaw® Virtual Law Firm platform and all associated data is hosted by Baltimore, Maryland-based DataPoint, Inc., a top-tier hosting facility that is SAS70 Type II certified.
We utilize the same level of protection and security that is used by banks and required by our national insurance company clients. Through our secure, state-of-the-art hosting facilities, our clients receive the highest data protection commercially available.
We provide an integrated system that allows authorized parties in and keeps everyone else out through the use of:
- Firewalls to prevent unauthorized access;
- SSL encryption to keep documents secure;
- U.S. government-standard 128-bit AES encryption;
- Site certificates to verify server identities;
- Secure IDs to verify user identity;
- Windows security to keep network logins locked up;
- Intrusion protection against login attempt and unauthorized transmissions; and
- Off-site data storage.
Features of the Facility include:
Physical Security. All computer and network communication systems are housed in a secure, hardened hosting facility with 24x7x365 guard patrols and full surveillance and biometric access control systems.
System Redundancy. Our system has built-in redundancy at every point, including Web, application, file, database, and storage servers.
Network Monitoring. DirectLaw's infrastructure is continuously protected by a broad shield of network equipment and software tools and continuously monitored by our staff for any attempted network attacks.
Network Security. DirectLaw® requires its clients (e.g. law firms and the law firms' clients) to use Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encryption technology (128-bit minimum) when accessing the DirectLaw® applications via an Internet browser. Digital certificates ensure the authenticity of each SSL session. This minimizes the risk of data stream interception between the user's browser and the DirectLaw® service.
Data Backup. We automatically backup all client data nightly and store it at a secure, off-site facility. All backups are encrypted, and any unused, obsolete, or end-of-life media is destroyed to prevent third-party data retrieval.
User Authentication. Our authentication policies enforce security without increasing complexity for authorized end users.HTTPS Protocol
Sections of this web site, and the entire DirectLaw Virtual Law Firm Platform, are secure and use the https protocol. This means that all data sent to and from the site is encrypted. You can determine on your own that it is a secure site by noticing that the lock symbol on your web browser is closed when you are in a secure area.
More about SmartLegaLForms and DirectLaw
Who is behind DirectLaw?SmartLegalForms, Inc., is a private companies founded by lawyers to provide affordable online legal solutions to consumers and small businesses using Internet-based technologies. The company were originally funded with venture capital during its early stages to support the development of the Rapidocs document automation technology.