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Is legal software legal? Nolo Press, which publishes popular books and software programs such as Willmaker, now has to answer some legal questions.

Apparently, some lawyers are losing business to the do it yourself software and books. Nolo has been notified that it must appear before the unauthorized practice of law committee of the Texas Supreme Court. Nolo co-founder Ralph Warner....

"These unauthorized practice of law statutes...which are weird in the first placeÂ… were passed back in the 1930s to protect the turf of the legal profession during the depression. And what tends to happen is when there's somebody who competes with lawyers who is not a member of the bar of that state....a lawyer gets wind of it somehow and makes a complaint."

Warner says that may be fine when the complaint is against an individual practicing law without the credentials. But when it comes to books and software....and even information on the Internet....come on!

"Even the legal profession agrees that ordinary folks need affordable access and lots of people can't afford to pay legal fees upwards of 175 dollars an hour in most places."

The nolo.com web site, by the way, has an extensive collection of lawyer jokes. Maybe, says Warner, that's what has rankled them in Texas.

  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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