LegalZoom.com is one of the more widely used online legal services that small businesses can turn to for assistance, whether it’s forming a company or protecting intellectual property.
Founded in 1999 and based in Glendale, Calif., LegalZoom has helped more than 2 million people start or run their businesses. Let’s go over LegalZoom reviews, pricing and alternative online legal services.
Why Use LegalZoom?
Three reasons readily come to mind:
- As an online legal service, you can access LegalZoom on the go. You’re not limited to access by location. You need access to the web.
- Depending on the situation, LegalZoom is a cheaper alternative to hiring a company lawyer or a full legal department.
- Forming a limited liability company (LLC)? Drafting a will? If you prefer one online legal service for both your business and personal lives, LegalZoom can help on both fronts.
While some consider LegalZoom among the best online legal service providers, the company has its fair share of positive and negative reviews.
- Long-term experience: LegalZoom has been around for a while — namely 20 years.
- One-stop legal shop: LegalZoom offers a range of personal and business legal services, including business documentation services and estate planning advice.
- A national presence: LegalZoom offers access to independent attorneys in all 50 states.
- Cheaper than hiring a lawyer: Attorneys can charge $100-$400 an hour. LegalZoom services start at $79!
- Resources and info: LegalZoom features a knowledge center and company blog as well as provides access to business and personal legal information, downloadable document templates, a question-and-answer forum and legal consultations.
Despite having an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau, LegalZoom has a significant number of negative customer reviews. On BBB, nearly 150 customers have given it an average 1-star rating. Cons include:
- Access to an attorney costs more: When you pay to receive LegalZoom services, remember that a personal consultation with its attorneys is charged differently. Costs depend on the plan you choose and how long you subscribe to those services. Each consultation session is 30 minutes.
- No freebies: LegalZoom doesn’t offer a free trial.
- Limited customer service: If you require customer support by telephone, then you have to contact representatives during business hours, which vary from weekdays to weekends.
On the BBB website, some customers complain of poor customer service, including poor communication from representatives, the selling of the wrong packages and billing even when customers have canceled subscriptions.
Costs may vary, depending on what service you want, how long you want it for and how personalized it is.
How Much Does LegalZoom Cost for an LLC?
For basic LLC costs, expect to pay between $79-$349 plus state filing fees (which vary by state):
- The Economy package, which costs $79, provides 6 legal services.
- The Standard package, which costs $329 plus state filing fees, offers 3 additional services compared to the basic package.
- The $349 Gold Express package provides 11 services, including express shipping.
Remember, personalized consultation services with your state attorney will cost you more.
- Generally speaking, additional prepaid costs for an attorney start at $9.99 per month but only if you pay for a year for legal services. Otherwise, it costs slightly more than that.
- For a business lawyer, you could pay $31.25 for a year’s subscription and more per month for shorter subscription periods.
Alternate Online Legal Services
While LegalZoom is one of the better known legal online service providers, it’s not the only one. There are several LegalZoom competitors.
Swyft Filings, a document filing service, is cheaper than LegalZoom when it comes to LLC-formation services. The costs of incorporating your business start at $49 for the basic package. The standard package costs $149 and the premium one costs $299. All these costs are exclusive of state filing fees. While it isn’t BBB accredited (it scores an F), Swyft Filings has excellent customer reviews on Trustpilot.com and an average of 2.1 stars on BBB. The company offers fewer legal services but touts a money-back guarantee. Telephone customer support only is available on weekdays.
In business since 2004, Incfile also offers cheaper legal services compared with LegalZoom. It can cost as low as $49 plus state fees to form an LLC. Like LegalZoom, it provides additional informational resources. While it has a limited range of services, Incfile’s services are more geared toward business. Incfile has an average of 4.6 stars on BBB’s site from more than 100 customers.
If you are looking for a more personalized attorney consultation services, consider LegalShield, which says its services are available 24/7. Legal plans start at $24.95 a month ($39 a month for small business plans). LegalShield received an average of about 3 stars on BBB from nearly 80 customer reviews. However, LegalShield offers limited business legal services and is more focused on personal legal matters.
LegalZoom vs. an Attorney
Depending on the situation, a real-life attorney may be the better option than an online legal service despite higher costs.
LegalZoom limits each session to only 30 minutes. An attorney can schedule a longer appointment to suit your legal needs. Also, an attorney can look over your legal documents in real time and give you immediate feedback. Furthermore, you can clarify information in a face-to-face session as the situation develops, which will ensure you get a custom solution to a unique legal problem. Some attorneys offer flexible payment options if needed.
One final thought: if you aren’t ready to pay for an online legal service such as LegalZoom or retain an attorney, there are ways to seek free legal advice for your small business.