my recommendation upfront: IncFile
From time to time, all of us need to avail ourselves of legal services.
Whether we’re drafting a living will, filing a patent, trademarking our work, or starting a small business, we’ll all need a qualified professional to assist us with legal document preparation at some point or another.
One of the most popular legal document prep services is LegalZoom, but there are many to choose from. Since it first came on the scene in 2001, numerous competitors have emerged, and many of them offer not only the same services as LegalZoom but a few additional ones that they do not. Furthermore, many of them offer cheaper rates than LegalZoom does, which may make them preferable to first-time small business owners or sole proprietors working within a tight budget.
There are many reasons why LegalZoom may not be the ideal service for you, and the cost is high on the list. Though its prices are comparably low, they may still be a stretch for those living on a fixed income. If this is you, keep reading, because we’ve compiled a list that will help you choose a legal service ideally suited to your needs.
So which alternative legal technology companies are right for you?
This article will explore several such options and profile how they differ from LegalZoom, not only in terms of pricing but a variety of services offered. While some are primarily document filing services, others offer additional services including bankruptcy filing assistance and free Registered Agent service.
But before we get to look at the alternatives, let’s find out what exactly LegalZoom does. What sort of services does it offer? How long has it been around? Is it a reputable organization? And if not, which of its competitors can you trust with your business?
What is LegalZoom?
LegalZoom LLC is a front-runner in a unique emerging market: the online legal technology (or “e-lawyering”) industry. Based in California and endorsed by renowned attorney Robert Shapiro, this organization offers an array of services including document preparation (wills, prenuptial agreements, leases, patents, etc.), trademarking, copyrighting, LLC and incorporation filing, and registered agency, among others. Its target market is individuals and small businesses.
Brian P. Y. Liu founded LegalZoom in 2001 and partnered with a UK-based online legal service known as QualitySolicitors in 2012. Their partnership has continued to expand since then, establishing its headquarters in Texas in 2013 and acquiring shareholders including Permira, a private capital firm, in 2014. Its rapid growth and expansion earned it a place on Business Insider‘s list of the world’s most valuable startups in 2011 and Fast Company‘s list of most innovative companies in 2012.
Needless to say, LegalZoom’s reputation doesn’t come from anywhere. It’s a fast-growing and profitable organization with some highly credible professional endorsements, as well as a trailblazer in the ever-growing market of legal technology.
Alternatives to LegalZoom
LegalZoom is noteworthy for being the first legal services provider of its kind. However, it’s no longer the only one in its field. Many consumers consider this a plus because although it’s targeted to sole proprietors and small businesses, there are still some who find LegalZoom’s rates prohibitively expensive.
If you’re one of these consumers, you’re probably wondering whether there are cheaper alternatives out there for you. Luckily, the answer is yes!
Since it came onto the scene in 2001, many similar legal technology companies have cropped up, which means you have a multitude to choose from when it comes time to draft a living will or file a patent for your latest innovation. Let’s explore some of these alternatives and look at how they stack up in comparison to LegalZoom.
Before we delve into this section, we want to preface it with a warning: Please don’t go by just the information given here. Whenever you make a purchase, it’s vital to conduct your own research and independently verify whether a product or service is right for you.
Even businesses and goods with five-star ratings still won’t be an ideal fit for everyone 100% of the time, so be sure to factor in your unique needs and preferences before you make any hasty decisions.
Our recommended service is IncFile
With that out of the way, let’s compare our LegalZoom alternatives!
- We’ll begin with Rocket Lawyer, because it’s been around for almost as long as LegalZoom, and it has the glowing reputation to back up its brand name.
Rocket Lawyer’s system is simple: You answer a short list of questions pertaining to your business, and they take it from there, preparing all the necessary legal documents, processing them on your behalf, filing them for you, and even delivering them to their recipient.
It’s a completely hands-off process for you the customer. Even better is their rate, which costs $50 less than LegalZoom charges for similar services.
- Swyft Filings hasn’t been in the game quite as long as either LegalZoom or Rocket Lawyer, but we’re including it here because of the great savings it offers you. For only $49, you can register your LLC. That’s $100 less than LegalZoom charges for the same service.
Also, based on their current consumer reviews, Swyft Filings enjoys a rating of 4.6 out of 5. That’s based on the feedback of over 4,200 people, and a testament to their legitimacy as a legal technology service.
- IncFile is another highly affordable LLC filing company, saving you $100 compared to LegalZoom’s fees and, as a bonus, offering you one year of service from a Registered Agent, entirely free of charge. Best of all, they will complete your document processing and filing in only one business day — guaranteed.
- Upstart Legal is another terrific choice for those starting their own mall businesses. Founded by an attorney with two decades of experience in the field, it offers everything you need to help get your ducks in a row and get your small business up and running with minimal hassle: LLC filing, tax documents, and more, and it’s all fully automated for your convenience.
- Law Depot is a little different from some of the other services on this list but worth including for some very important reasons. In addition to offering the same filing services as the other legal technology companies profiled here, Law Depot offers a huge array of fully customizable do-it-yourself legal documents.
They also offer preparation services for an additional charge, so you can have the peace of mind of knowing that your documents have been correctly filled in and filed.
6. Nolo is also a little different than the other companies listed here in that it offer more information than legal technology services. It features a huge library of legal articles to help you make fully informed decisions before you attempt to prepare or file any legal documents on your own.
If you require some professional assistance, there are qualified attorneys on hand to assist you for reasonable rates. You can even file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy through Nolo, which is a service not offered by the other companies on this list.
These are only a handful of the alternatives to LegalZoom that exist out there, but they’re enough to get you started on your search. Before you enlist any service to help you file an LCC or prepare estate papers, we recommend that you conduct some further research so you can be sure you’re getting the most for your money and your specific needs.
Our recommended service is IncFile
By now it should be apparent that those looking to start a small business have a wealth of options to choose from when it comes to engaging legal technology services. Likewise, those who have other legal needs including will preparation or the creation of a rental agreement have multiple avenues to pursue.
We want to reiterate that LegalZoom is a trusted, reliable organization that will get the job done if that’s the direction you choose to go in, but that it’s not the only business of its kind. If you find their rates too steep, or if they don’t offer the full selection of legal services you require, there are other possibilities that may be better suited to you.
Regardless of your ultimate goal, there is a legal technology company that can accommodate you and guides you through the process of getting your business off the ground, settling your estate, handling your bankruptcy, or preparing your will. None of this has to be done alone, and none of it has to cost you an arm and a leg as this list clearly attests.
Have you ever hired a legal technology company to help you prepare or file LLC documents or other legal paperwork? If so, what was your experience like? Would you recommend this service to others? What would you change about your experience if you could? Please leave us a comment and tell us all about it. We love to hear from our readers, and we’d love additional recommendations we can give to others!