LegalZoom is one of the more widely used web-based services companies. But is it the best option for your small business? Let’s go through what does LegalZoom offer business owners, as well as LegalZoom reviews, pricing and alternative online legal services.
What Is LegalZoom?
LegalZoom is an online service that offers legal documents and advice that small businesses can use for various matters, whether it’s forming a company or protecting intellectual property.
Founded in 1999 and based in Glendale, Calif., LegalZoom touts that it’s helped more than 2 million businesses handle their legal matters.
What Does LegalZoom Offer?
- As an online legal service, you can access LegalZoom on the go. Your location isn’t limiting as long as you have a web connection.
- Depending on the situation, LegalZoom is a cheaper alternative to hiring a company lawyer or a legal department.
- There are LegalZoom packages that address needs in either your business and personal life, from forming a limited liability company (LLC) to drafting a will. According to its website, LegalZoom packages cover various small business aspects, including the following:
- Business formation (such as LLC, sole proprietorship, S- and C-corporations and non-profits)
- Doing Business As (DBA) name
- Business compliance (including compliance calendar, operating agreement and annual report)
- Intellectual property (including trademark search and registration, provisional patent and copyright)
- Business changes and filings (including corporate dissolution and foreign qualification)
- Taxes, contracts and licenses
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 was established 20 years ago, and its customer services and resources have grown throughout that time.
- One-stop legal shop: LegalZoom offers a range of personal and business legal services, including business documentation services and estate planning advice.
- 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.
- No charges by the hour: LegalZoom has flat fees for its services, as opposed to hourly billing from law firms.
- Resources and information: LegalZoom features a knowledge center and company blog and also provides access to business and personal legal information, downloadable document templates, a question-and-answer forum and legal consultations.
- Money-back guarantee: If you’re not satisfied with the services within 60 days, you can contact the company for a refund.
Despite having an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau, there are negative LegalZoom ratings. On the BBB, nearly 150 customers have given it an average 1-star rating.
- Access to an attorney costs you: When you pay to receive LegalZoom services, remember that a personal consultation with an attorney is charged. 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 (5 a.m. – 7 p.m. Pacific Time on weekdays and 7 a.m. – 4 p.m. Pacific Time on weekends).
- More expensive than some other services: While LegalZoom packages for starting an LLC start at $79 for the most basic service, companies such as Swyft Filing and Incfile offer basic business incorporation services starting at $49 and $0, respectively, plus state fees.
On the BBB website, some customers complain of poor customer service, poor communication from representatives, selling incorrect packages and billing errors.
Costs 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 with an estimated processing time of 30 business days.
- The Standard package, which costs $329, plus state filing fees, offers 3 additional services compared to the basic package and an estimated processing time of 15 business days.
- The $349 Gold Express package provides 11 services and an estimated processing time of 10 business days.
Remember, personalized consultation services with your state attorney will cost you.
- In general, additional prepaid LegalZoom pricing for a personal attorney starts at $9.99 per month if you pay for a year of legal services. If you prepay for only 6 months, costs start at $11.99 per month.
- For a business lawyer, you could pay $31.25 for a year’s subscription. The cost is higher for shorter subscription periods.
Other Online Legal Services
If you’re looking for a LegalZoom alternative, you’ll have a good range of options. While LegalZoom is one of the better-known legal online service providers, you might prefer to work with one of the LegalZoom competitors.
Swyft Filings, a document filing service, is a cheaper LegalZoom alternative for LLC-formation services. The costs of incorporating your business start at $49. The standard business incorporation package costs $149 and the premium one costs $299. All these costs exclude state filing fees. While it isn’t BBB accredited (and not rated), Swyft Filings has excellent customer reviews on Trustpilot.com and an average of 4.25 stars on the BBB. The company offers fewer legal services but touts a money-back guarantee.
Telephone customer support is available on weekdays only.
This LegalZoom alternative has a narrower scope of services, with the primary focus on helping customers file to form an LLC or C-corporation. ZenBusiness offers additional services that can help small business owners once their establishments are up and operating.
Options include registered agent services, filing required annual reports, operating agreements and website-building templates.
Like other LegalZoom competitors, its pricing is lower than LegalZoom’s, with the basic plan starting at $49 per year, plus state fees. The next 2 packages’ prices are $199 per year (Pro) and $299 per year (Premium), in addition to any state fees.
Industry reviews give ZenBusiness the edge over LegalZoom when it comes to forming an LLC. However, if you think you might need a more comprehensive selection for legal services, LegalZoom could move into the lead.
If you are looking for more personalized attorney consultation services, consider LegalShield, which says its services are available 24/7.
Legal plans start at $49 a month for small business plans. LegalShield received an average of about 4 stars on the BBB from more than 1,000 customer reviews. However, LegalShield’s business legal services are limited; it’s more focused on personal legal matters.
LegalZoom vs. an Attorney
Depending on the situation, an 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.
Note: 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.