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Best Legal Services Online for Businesses in 2019

Priyanka Prakash

Senior Staff Writer at Fundera
Priyanka is a senior staff writer at Fundera, reporting on all things small business. She also collects, analyzes, and reports on data to help business owners make better decisions. Previously managing editor at Fit Small Business, she's also a licensed attorney who served as general counsel at a Y Combinator startup. Priyanka's writing has been featured in Inc., CNBC, and other top tier publications. When she isn't writing, Priyanka loves to explore NYC with her husband and daughter.

When you need legal help for your business, there’s usually a lot at stake. Whether you need help setting up a business entity, need to resolve a partnership dispute, need a contract reviewed, or have another legal issue to address, it’s vital to get top-notch professional advice as soon as possible.

Fortunately, getting legal help can be as easy as a few clicks of your mouse. There are several online legal services where you can access legal forms and resources, find a local attorney, or get help setting up a business. Read on for our picks of the best online legal service for 2019, as well as some do’s and don’ts when hunting for legal help online for your business.

Best for Businesses Needing Regular Legal Help: LegalZoom

What LegalZoom Offers

LegalZoom is one of the largest players among online legal services, with more than 4 million businesses and consumers using the site. They provide a range of services, including:

  • Access to a network of vetted attorneys for legal advice and document review
  • Business formation services
  • Trademark registration, copyright application, and patent application
  • Legal forms, articles, and other resources

While you can certainly use LegalZoom on a one-time basis (for example, downloading a specific legal form you need once or setting up an LLC), they encourage you to sign up for a monthly legal plan called the Business Advisory Plan. This plan lets you tap into legal help whenever you need it.

When to Use LegalZoom

LegalZoom’s Business Advisory Plan is a great choice for businesses that don’t have legal help in-house but foresee needing regular legal assistance. For example, maybe you’re in the early stages of applying for a patent, are planning to raise venture capital, or are getting ready to hire your first few employees. In those cases, LegalZoom’s Business Advisory Plan can function like having your very own business attorney “on call.”

The LegalZoom plan includes unlimited 30-minute phone consultations with an attorney and unlimited access to legal forms. However, it goes beyond competitors by also offering unlimited document review by an attorney, an annual business evaluation (to ensure you’re in compliance with relevant laws), access to tax professionals, and one copyright registration per month at no additional cost (great for creative businesses and artists, musicians, and freelancers).

LegalZoom Pricing

Service LegalZoom Cost
Business Formation
LLC – $79+ and govt filing fees; S-Corp & C-Corp – $149+ and govt filing fees; Nonprofit – $99+ and govt filing fees; LP & LLP – $149+ and govt filing fees
Legal Forms
Single form – $14.95; Unlimited access to form library – $7.99 per month or included with Business Advisory Plan
Business Advisory Plan (for regular access to an attorney)
$31.25 per month for 1-year plan; $36 per month for 6-month plan

LegalZoom Pros

  • Offers a huge variety of small business legal services, so they can be the “one-stop shop” for all your business’s legal needs. They’ve been around since 2001, so they can be trusted to deliver.
  • Least expensive option for the business legal plan. This provides unlimited attorney phone consultations, document review, and legal forms. Tax advice, an annual business evaluation, and one copyright registration per month is also included in the plan, which competitors don’t offer.
  • Longest 60-day money-back guarantee in the industry.

LegalZoom Cons

  • Costlier than several other legal sites for business formation.
  • Business legal plan has its limitations. Phone consultations are limited to 30 minutes, and there’s an extra charge for reviewing documents over 10 pages long.

legal services

Best for Legal Forms: Rocket Lawyer

What Rocket Lawyer Offers

Rocket Lawyer is another big player among legal websites. They offer the following legal services:

  • Access to a network of vetted attorneys for legal advice and document review
  • Business formation services
  • Legal forms, articles, and other resources

For businesses needing regular legal help, Rocket Lawyer has a membership plan that’s similar to LegalZoom’s Business Advisory Plan, though it is a bit more expensive. For a monthly fee of $39.95, you can access an unlimited number of legal forms, obtain online legal advice or consult on the phone with an attorney, and get your first business incorporation for free (you only have to pay required state filing fees).

When to Use Rocket Lawyer

Rocket Lawyer is a great option for businesses that use a lot of legal forms. They have an intuitive form builder that lets you easily customize a legal document for your business’s needs. As you’re building your form, you’ll see helpful pop-ups about the legal norms and rules in your state, which is key to making sure your forms are enforceable if you’re ever taken to court.

Rocket Lawyer Pricing

Service Rocket Lawyer Cost
Business Formation
LLC – Starts at $99.95 plus govt filing fees
Legal Forms
Single form – $20 per document or unlimited form access included with Rocket Lawyer membership
Membership plan (for regular access to an attorney)
$39.95 per month (7-day free trial, cancel anytime)

Rocket Lawyer Pros

  • Does an excellent job with clarifying state laws in the form builder, so you can be confident that your legal documents comply with state requirements.
  • Free seven-day trial of membership plan.
  • Some great perks are included in the membership plan, including free business incorporation for new members and document defense. Document defense helps you enforce legal contracts.

Rocket Lawyer Cons

  • Membership plan is costlier than LegalZoom’s.
  • Legal forms are costlier than LegalZoom if you’re not a member.

Best for Finding a Local Lawyer: LegalMatch

What LegalMatch Offers

LegalMatch is a service that helps you find local lawyers who can help you with your legal issue.

You simply submit a “case” on LegalMatch’s website, which will then distribute the request to pre-vetted attorneys in their network. After reviewing your case, typically within a few hours, lawyers matching your business’s location and the practice area you need help in will contact you by email or phone (however you specify).

You can then choose the right lawyer for you based on their hourly rate, reviews from previous clients, and the number of years of experience.

When to Use LegalMatch

LegalMatch is a great way to meet pre-vetted attorneys located near your business. There are lawyers available to help in all specialties, such as patents/trademarks, employment law, immigration, and more. Once you find a lawyer you like, you can arrange an appointment with them to further discuss your legal issue.

If you have a pretty straightforward and standardized legal issue, such as incorporating a business or creating a simple contract, then LegalMatch is not the fastest or cheapest option. For that, a service like IncFile or LegalZoom would be a better choice.

LegalMatch Pricing

Pricing varies. Lawyers charge their own rates for all services and have their own fee structure.

LegalMatch Pros

  • Easy way to find a qualified local attorney.
  • Able to see how other clients have rated attorneys before choosing.

LegalMatch Cons

  • No fixed fee pricing for business formation or document review.
  • No access to legal forms.

legal services

Best for Business Formation: IncFile

What IncFile Offers

IncFile is a destination site for starting a business. You can use IncFile to easily and quickly form an LLC, nonprofit, C-Corporation, or S-Corporation.

IncFile is the least expensive online legal service for business formation. They even include Registered Agent Service free of charge for one year. A registered agent is someone who can accept legal correspondence on your business’s behalf. When you form a business, the state will require you to name a registered agent.

When to Use IncFile

IncFile is a great option if you need to quickly and easily start a new business. For less than LegalZoom and Rocket Lawyer charge, IncFile will file all the formation paperwork for you and give you everything you need to get started.

IncFile Pricing

Starts at $49 plus government filing fees to form a business. There is an extra charge for related documents, such as corporation bylaws ($30) or an LLC operating agreement ($40). Registered Agent Service is included for one year at no additional cost, after which it costs $99 per year.

IncFile Pros

  • Least expensive online legal service for business formation.
  • Best value if you need to form a business quickly. If you’re running up against a state filing deadline, it’s only an extra $50 on average to expedite your business filing on IncFile.

IncFile Cons

  • Services offered are limited to business formation. You can’t get legal forms or access an attorney through IncFile, so it can’t be a “one-stop shop” for your business’s legal needs. For a range of legal services, try Rocket Lawyer or LegalZoom.

Best for Complex Legal Needs: UpCounsel

What UpCounsel Offers

UpCounsel is a business law marketplace. Businesses needing legal help post a “job” on the site and get proposals from multiple attorneys. They can then compare the proposals based on the attorney’s hourly rate, reviews from previous clients, number of years of experience, and areas of expertise, before hiring an attorney.

UpCounsel has a network of 5,000 business attorneys, many of whom formerly worked at top corporate law firms or Fortune 500 companies, including Google and Apple. They have on average 14 years of experience, so they can tackle complicated legal issues. For example, UpCounsel is a great choice if you need to create an investor agreement or apply for a patent or trademark.

When to Use UpCounsel

We recommend UpCounsel for complex legal problems. When you need legal advice, you simply post a job on UpCounsel and wait for attorneys to bid on it. You can then choose a lawyer based on their rate, reviews from previous clients, number of years of experience, and areas of expertise.

This is a great process when you’re facing a complicated legal issue and want to compare multiple bids, but it probably isn’t worth the trouble to go through this process for something quick and simple, like incorporating a business or creating a standard contract.

UpCounsel Pricing

Pricing varies. Lawyers charge their own rates for all services and have their own fee structure.

UpCounsel Pros

  • Network of top-tier, highly experienced business attorneys who are equipped to handle complicated legal issues.
  • Free legal forms are available for download.

UpCounsel Cons

  • Costly for business formation (e.g. forming an LLC costs approximately $500—including all filing fees—on UpCounsel, but can be done for $250-300 on IncFile).

legal services

Best for Free Online Legal Advice: Avvo

What Avvo Offers

Avvo is like the Yellow Pages for lawyers. Ninety-seven percent of attorneys in the United States have a profile in Avvo’s online legal directory. Each attorney’s profile contains reviews from past clients, number of years of experience, and areas of expertise.

Avvo has a free legal forum that works like Quora and Reddit. Post a legal question for free, and attorneys will post a response, often within a few hours.

When to Use Avvo

Avvo is an excellent starting point for just about any legal question because it’s free! Simply post your question online and wait for responses from lawyers. Most lawyers provide general information and advice. If you want to dig more in-depth or receive more personalized advice, you’ll need to pay each lawyer’s contracted rate. However, most lawyers on the site offer a free initial consultation.

Avvo Pricing

Free to post a legal question.

Avvo Pros

  • Largest online network of attorneys, with reviews.
  • Active legal Q&A forum.
  • Free legal forms are available for download.

Avvo Cons

  • Not a cost-effective option if you need regular, ongoing legal help. For regular legal help, Rocket Lawyer or LegalZoom is a better option.

Other Legal Services Online

Self-Help Legal Resources: Nolo

Nolo has a big repository of articles about everyday legal topics written by attorneys. These can be accessed for free and serve as an excellent resource if you need to know general information. These cover a wide range of legal topics related to starting and operating a business.

Help With Debt Collection: LegalShield

LegalShield lets you be proactive about legal help. For prices starting at $39 per month, you can get regular access to a lawyer and document review. LegalShield is unique in assisting businesses with debt collection, one of the main issues impacting small business cash flow. If customers aren’t paying you, LegalShield can help you recover what’s owed to you.

How to Decide Which Online Legal Service Is Right for You

With so many law websites to choose from, how do you know which one is right for you?

It primarily depends on the type of legal issue you have. Some sites, like IncFile, are designed for a very specific purpose, such as business formation. Others, like LegalZoom and Rocket Lawyer, offer a range of legal services. Still others, such as UpCounsel and LegalMatch, will connect you to local lawyers to discuss more complicated legal problems.

Here’s a cheat sheet of which providers to opt for and when:

What you need Try…
Set up an LLC, Corp, or Nonprofit
LLC – IncFile – it’s designed exclusively for business formation and is the least expensive option.
Create legal documents or obtain legal forms
Single form – LegalZoom or Rocket Lawyer – both have big form libraries and form builders that let you create customized legal documents.
Regular legal advice or assistance from an attorney
LegalZoom or Rocket Lawyer – both have membership plans that give you regular access to an attorney.
Attorney who can help with complex legal matters
UpCounsel or LegalMatch – both let you submit a legal question and will match you to an attorney who is qualified to assist you.

Is It Wise to Use Legal Services Online?

Millions of businesses and consumers use online legal services to research legal questions, create legal documents, or access legal forms. But, these services aren’t lawyers, and they are not a substitute for getting legal advice from an attorney. Laws change frequently, and none of these services guarantee that the information on their website is 100% accurate and up to date.

Many business owners just need a standard contract or want to quickly get their business setup. In these situations, online legal services are a no-brainer. They make it easy to do these things for a fraction of the cost of hiring an attorney. However, there are a couple situations where it’s beneficial to go the old fashioned route and hire a lawyer:

  1. Unique circumstances: Online legal services are great with standard boilerplate language. For example, almost all businesses use a nondisclosure agreement (NDA) that contains identical language. However, if your situation has added complications, then it’s best to hire an attorney. For example, if you’re trying to raise investor money or trying to sell a portion of your business, your NDA may need special clauses that a lawyer should negotiate and draft.
  2. Threat of a lawsuit: Another situation where it makes sense to go with a lawyer is if you are in a highly litigious or risky situation. For instance, if a former business partner is threatening to sue you or you are in a copyright or trademark dispute with another business, you need an experienced lawyer who knows how to quickly address the situation.

To help you get the most out of an online legal service and prevent problems, here are additional do’s and don’ts to keep in mind.

The Do’s & Don’ts Of Online Legal Services

  • Do double check the licensure and credentials of any lawyer who is assisting you. Even if the lawyer comes pre-vetted by an online legal service, it never hurts to confirm. All states have bar associations where you can confirm that a lawyer’s license is in good standing.
  • Do understand all the rates and fees that you will be charged by a legal help site and by an attorney. Things you assume are included may in fact be charged as add-ons. For example, most sites charge an additional fee for registered agent service. If you are working directly with an attorney, make sure you fully understand their fee structure and that the fee agreement is in writing.
  • Do make sure the legal website you are using includes your state laws. Every state has slightly different laws for everything from business formation to employment contracts. If you don’t follow your state’s laws, your legal documents may not hold up in court. Good-quality online legal sites will modify legal documents based on your state’s laws.
  • Do understand that if you’re using an online law service to find an attorney, the website has no control over the lawyer’s fees or the work that the lawyer does for you. Your relationship with the attorney is independent from the website.
  • Don’t forget to check attorney ratings and reviews before choosing to work with a lawyer. Make sure the attorney has expertise in the area you need help with and that former clients have been happy with the attorney’s work.
  • Don’t choose a lawyer or legal website based only on budget. While your budget will certainly limit your choices, you want to be sure you are using a reputable service. If legal work isn’t done properly, you could be subject to fines or litigation, and that’s something you definitely want to avoid.
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Priyanka Prakash

Senior Staff Writer at Fundera
Priyanka is a senior staff writer at Fundera, reporting on all things small business. She also collects, analyzes, and reports on data to help business owners make better decisions. Previously managing editor at Fit Small Business, she's also a licensed attorney who served as general counsel at a Y Combinator startup. Priyanka's writing has been featured in Inc., CNBC, and other top tier publications. When she isn't writing, Priyanka loves to explore NYC with her husband and daughter.

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