Upsolve Internal Policy on Not Providing Legal Advice for Employees

In a Nutshell

Transparency is one of our core values at Upsolve. That's why we're releasing our internal employee policy around no legal advice. We take this extremely seriously. Anyone who violates this policy can be terminated as an employee from Upsolve with cause.

Written by Upsolve Team.  
Updated February 27, 2020


Introduction

The purpose of this internal policy document is to make clear the limits of the information that we provide to people who use our software product. Upsolve is a self-service document assembly tool that allows people to file for bankruptcy on their own when they have a simple, garden variety Chapter 7 bankruptcy case. We are not a law firm and we can never provide legal advice to people who use our software platform. Providing legal advice when you are not barred in the state of the person that you’re assisting is an offense that is against the law, and if it is discovered that you violate this law, you can be terminated with cause from Upsolve. 

Limitations of Upsolve Software

The Upsolve software is not for everyone. It is only for people with simple Chapter 7 cases who cannot afford lawyers. We believe lawyers are an excellent investment for people who can afford them, and it is our official policy to recommend that people hire lawyers to help them in their bankruptcy case when they can afford them. 

Our software does not currently account for 100% of people who need to file for bankruptcy. We have focused on building a software tool that is able to help as many poor people as reasonably possible. When someone has certain characteristics that our software cannot currently serve, we inform them about our software’s limitations. We provide an option to go talk to an attorney for a free consultation. 

Providing Customer Support

When users ask us questions while using our product, we cannot provide them with any legal advice. We can only provide them with general legal information. This includes links to articles that we have written, or information on what most Upsolve users who have certain qualities do when they’re in certain scenarios. Under no circumstances, when it comes to legal questions that include matters of the law, do we ever tell users what they should do. We only provide them with general information.  

Petition Review Process

Our petition review process has two aims. Under no circumstances do we provide legal advice during the petition review. 

The first aim of the petition review process is Quality Assurance with our software. During the petition generation process, our software product is prone to software bugs like any software product. For example, the size of the text in a particular field for a petition that our software generates may be too small to be legible. It is the job of the petition reviewer to increase the size of the text to be legible. We do this for the benefit of the Bankruptcy Courts and Chapter 7 bankruptcy trustees. 

The second aim of the petition reviewer is to ensure that the petitions that our software generates are complete and consistent. During the process of filing for bankruptcy, our software asks users several questions about what they earn, spend, own, and owe. Our software also asks users to upload their tax returns and pay stubs. 

Sometimes, the information that a user submits in our questionnaire is incomplete. For example, they accidentally do not include information about income they received last year, even though they uploaded tax returns that outline a certain amount of income. In this case, our petition reviewer can reach out to the user to ask for further information about last year’s income, to make sure that their petition is complete. Another common example is that Upsolve users misstate their monthly income as half of what it actually is because they simply copy their pay stubs. In this case, the petition reviewer may collaborate with the user to clarify the right monthly income. 

During the review process, if a petition reviewer realizes that our software cannot properly assist someone, the petition reviewer must inform the user about the limitations of our software.  

Conclusion

Under no circumstances should anyone at Upsolve come close to providing personalized legal advice, telling an Upsolve user what they should do during their bankruptcy case on substantive legal matters. This is a rule that we take extremely seriously, as we’re able to provide our self-service web application, customer support, and petition review only as long as we do not provide legal advice.



Upsolve is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that started in 2016. Our mission is to help low-income families who cannot afford lawyers file bankruptcy for free, using an online web app. Spun out of Harvard Law School, our team includes lawyers, engineers, and judges. We have world-class funders that include the U.S. government, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, and leading foundations. It's one of the greatest civil rights injustices of our time that low-income families can’t access their basic rights when they can’t afford to pay for help. Combining direct services and advocacy, we’re fighting this injustice.

To learn more, read why we started Upsolve in 2016, our reviews from past users, and our press coverage from places like the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.

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