Self-Help Law Movement Celebrates 40th Anniversary
California attorney Ed Sherman started the self-help law movement in 1971 when he founded Nolo Press to publish the first edition of his book, “How to Do Your Own Divorce in California”.
With the publication of the 34th edition this year, Sherman’s publishing company, now called Nolo Press Occidental, is celebrating the 40th anniversary of the movement that changed the way law is practiced in the U.S. Before the publication of the first edition of “How to Do Your Own Divorce in California” the only recourse the public had for dealing with legal matters was to see a lawyer—self-help law didn’t exist.
In 1973, Sherman trained 18 people as “divorce consultants” to act as legal secretaries for the general public. This kicked off a whole new profession dubbed “independent paralegals” or “Legal Document Assistants” as they must now by law be called in California. There are more than one thousand of them active in the state.
Over the years the movement has grown to include the development of related industries such as legal document preparers, legal software developers, and online legal services. BILLIONS Saved in Legal Fees There are more than 1,000,000 copies of Sherman’s do-your-own divorce books in print. Figured very conservatively (considering that library copies have multiple users) at 850,000 divorces with a bare minimum attorney fee of $1,500 each, Sherman has saved the public at least $1.2 billion in legal fees over the past 40 years.
That doesn’t include the savings to the public from using all the other self-help law products and services that came along over the years after Sherman got the ball rolling for the legal self-help movement. The total public savings in legal fees actually comes to many billions of dollars.
With the economy still down, more and more people are turning to self-help law to deal with such issues such as divorce, bankruptcy, wills, trusts, prenuptial agreements, partnership agreements, and many other legal matters. The savings to be had can make a huge difference in the user’s ability to stay afloat financially during hard times.
To celebrate the 40th anniversary of such an important accomplishment, Nolo Press Occidental has started a new blog site at www.CaliforniaDivorceForms.org where visitors can learn more about the self-help law movement and California divorce.
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