LegalZoom is an online legal service that provides a range of business and personal legal documents without needing to hire an attorney.
LegalZoom was founded in March of 2001 and is based out of Glendale CA. Most of its legal documents and services are tailored for business needs, but there are also a smaller range of personal legal documents provided by the service.
LegalZoom is designed to save its customers money while allowing them to fulfill legal needs at an affordable price compared to the service fees charged by lawyers.
Through carefully designed questionnaires and other surveys, LegalZoom collects the information needed about a particular service and then customizes the document for the customer and the state where the document(s) need to be filed.
For an additional monthly membership fee along with any document fees, attorneys are available on a limited basis to address any further questions if the customer has them.
Options include help with business formation, business changes, contracts, trademarks, patent filings and more for businesses, while personal law help includes a range of estate, family law and real estate matters.
Should You Use LegalZoom?
LegalZoom is a good option for many businesses that cannot afford an attorney, including small businesses and startups. However, like any online legal service, it is not perfect, there are pros and cons to consider that could impact your decision:
Perhaps the biggest advantage of going the traditional route is the fact that your legal services are always fully customized for your situation.
LegalZoom utilizes its templates and surveys to create a pre-generated document, which can then be modified afterwards. Although this can fit a wide range of needs, it may not be a perfect solution for complex legal situations or documents that need to be drafted from scratch, with multiple complicated terms.
Typically, LegalZoom is best utilized for relatively simple legal needs that have minimal or no negotiations between the parties. Many (but not all) startups and small businesses are in this type of circumstance. In those cases, it can most certainly provide an excellent low cost alternative to a traditional attorney.
How Does Legal Zoom Work?
LegalZoom works by providing a series of pre-generated questions for whatever service you need completed. It typically takes about 15-20 minutes to fill out your questions for most documents.
If you run into hiccups during this process, you can contact LegalZoom help. For example, if you are forming a business, you can get help with choosing which type of entity you want to form from their support line, but you will not get actual attorney advice unless you sign up for a Business or Personal Advisory Plan (more on that below).
After answering the questions, LegalZoom will generate a legal document with the information that you provided and file the paperwork on your behalf with your state. The filing process for each state is designed by attorneys to ensure that your paperwork is accepted.
Can You Speak to a Real Attorney at LegalZoom?
LegalZoom is able to charge so little because much of the time you aren’t going to be hiring an attorney directly. Their pre-set questionnaires are designed to fulfill basic business or personal document needs.
If needed, you can actually speak to a real attorney at LegalZoom, but there are caveats and it may not be a perfect situation for some.
If phone consultations are needed, you have to sign up and pre-pay for a 6 month or 12 month membership plan. The Business Advisory Plan is more expensive than the Personal Advisory Plan, and you are limited to 30 minute consultations with attorneys on new matters only.
If you need additional assistance after the 30 minute consultation, you must pay the attorney what amounts to a traditional hourly rate, but LegalZoom negotiates 25% discounts with their attorney network.
What Does LegalZoom Cost?
Below are some popular services from LegalZoom along with their cost, but LegalZoom offers dozens of additional services with their upfront pricing that you can view on the website:
If you are on the Business Advisory Plan, an attorney will review your document at no additional cost for up to 10 pages in length. If you need an attorney to review a document over 10 pages long, there is a charge of $39 for 11-15 pages or $99 for 16-25 pages. Longer documents require a custom quote from an attorney for review.
The same goes for attorney consultations that take longer than 30 minutes – you are required to hire an attorney at a discounted 25% off price if your consult will take longer than this.
Some competitors of LegalZoom include RocketLawyer, Upcounsel, and IncFile. Each service provides its own distinct pros and cons compared to LegalZoom.
For example, RocketLawyer charges more for some services like business formation, but they also can provide cost savings because they allow for the creation of a range of different types of documents under one monthly plan.
In general, LegalZoom can be an excellent option for businesses or individuals with relatively simple legal document needs – such as business formation, annual reports or other business compliance needs, trademark registration, or contracts.
Small businesses and startups will likely find LegalZoom to be valuable for their initial contract, filing, compliance and business formation needs. As businesses grow, their matters often become more complicated, necessitating working with an attorney. Even if that is the case, LegalZoom does provide its advisory membership and discounted legal fees.
For personal matters, LegalZoom can be good for uncomplicated estate plans, living wills, power of attorney documents, uncomplicated family law, or basic real estate matters like residential leases.