I’ve talked about Rocket Lawyer’s mechanics lien forms in the past, and how bad they are: Wow! Rocket Lawyer Mechanics Lien Form Astonishly Poor. After that post, David Baga (@David_Baga) contacted me from the company and explained how it would be working on improving them. That was almost a year ago. They haven’t improved at all.
A recent decision from the Rhode Island Supreme Court motivated me to revisit the Rocket Lawyer service to see if it got any better. In 2012, I wrote about the RI decision in GSM Industrial Inc. v. Grinnell Fire Protection Systems Company Inc. The issue in that case regarded the notarial acknowledgment. The mechanics lien was signed and notarized in Pennsylvania, but the notarial acknowledgment didn’t comply with Rhode Island’s mechanics lien laws.
There are probably 100 reasons why it would be a big mistake to rely on Rocket Lawyer’s mechanics lien forms, but one of the most significant reasons is that Rocket Lawyer simply doesn’t understand how mechanic liens are supposed to be signed.
When completing the “Mechanics Lien Interview” on Rocket Lawyer, you’ll be asked to identify the state and county where the mechanics lien is being signed. And then as part of its help center, you can find these general “Signing instructions:”
Once the Mechanic’s Lien is in its final form, you can print, date and sign the Mechanic’s Lien in front of a notary public. In order to record a Mechanic’s Lien the Lienholder or Claimant’s signature must be notarized.
Aside from the incorrect statement that all mechanics liens must be notarized, the biggest problem here is that Rocket Lawyer has mechanics lien signatures all backwards.
They are asking the user to indicate where they will sign the document, and then their form will generate a notarial acknowledgement form for that state. But, as we learned in the Rhode Island GSM case, and as is clear from cases like Williams v. Athletics Field (Washington) and Kesco LLC v. 201 Salem Tpk LLC (Connecticut), the mechanics lien signature and acknowledgement rules vary from state to state depending on the state where the lien is filed, not the state where the lien is signed.
This is a huge distinction that Rocket Lawyer gets backwards. Their forms would be invalid in many states based on this misunderstanding.