Alternative Online Legal Services Candidates
Atrium: Atrium is more of a specialist legal services brand. The legal services provided by Atrium can be divided into Corporate, Regulatory, Intellectual Property, and Litigation. In other words, they are more of a “niche” legal service. In addition to legal counsel, Atrium offers professional services related to fundraising, HR, company culture, and hiring. It is disrupting the legal industry in the sense that it automates all legal tasks, and lawyers can no longer bill clients by the hour as they complete mindless, repetitive tasks. The Atrium online legal service is best suited for larger businesses or startups in the technology sector.
Avvo: Avvo is an online legal service in the “traditional” sense; meaning that it is a job board where you connect to attorneys in your area. It does not offer documentation creation and storage or online business formation, but it is a directory of lawyers. Still, for what it does, Avvo is very reliable and has great longevity. Unlike many other platforms, Avvo does quite a lot to verify its attorneys, so you know you are getting high-quality legal advice. You can browse by topic, state, or city.
Rocket Lawyer: RocketLawyer only narrowly avoided making our top 3 list. It is well-known, popular, cheap, easy to use, and functional. As an industry standard, it offers a 7-day free trial and a $40 a month charge after that. Similar to LegalZoom, RocketLawyer offers legal advisory services from a working professional. It is an excellent platform for document formation and signatures, similar to LegalNature. But it falls short on business formation, which is needlessly expensive.
UpCounsel: UpCounsel covers eight key legal areas – finance, labor, immigration, general counsel, patents, trademarks, business formation, and general legal agreements. It is incredibly intuitive and easy to use with fantastic customer service. It ticks all the boxes for people needing a low-cost, diverse legal service, along with outstanding customer service reviews. Like Rocket Lawyer this only narrowly avoided our top 3 list. However, there have been claims that UpCounsel does not thoroughly vet its attorneys and enough horror stories have made us skeptical of this platform.
MyCorporation: Similar to IncFile and ZenBusiness, MyCorporation specializes in business formation services. What separates it from the competition is the free business consultation it provides, which is helpful to uninformed, new business owners. MyCorporation also provides a “MaintainMyBiz” plan, which (for a fee) takes care of up to four legal document filings every year. The downside is that MyCorporation is nowhere near as cheap as IncFile, with plans ranging from $99 – $324 non-inclusive of state fees
BizCounsel: This service was started by the founders of LegalZoom. BizCounsel aims to make legal costs more affordable for small businesses. It provides advice from business attorneys on a wide range of legal and business creation topics such as business structuring, intellectual property, and employee management. BizCounsel charges a monthly fee for attorney consultations and a flat fee for legal document creation, and is quite expensive, at $89 – $189 per month. The only real downside is that it provides no online scheduling features.
Law Depot: LawDepot is a do-it-yourself legal form builder, somewhat similar to LegalNature. You choose the form (or contract), answer the required questions, and the software builds your document. Legal form builders are always awesome to use, for people who don’t need specialist legal advice. What separates LawDepot from other online legal document creators is the $10,000 insurance policy covering any costs incurred from an out-of-date or incorrect legal doc provided by them. Most legal document providers absolve themselves of any liability from such errors in their fine print. You can test-drive LawDepot and create legal documents for free during its 7-day trial.
LawDistrict: LawDistrict provides a wide library of verified legal templates that can be customized according to your specific needs. This site’s contract maker stands out due to its highly intuitive step-by-step process, which enables you to easily create any legal document in just a few minutes. You’ll also be able to edit, download, and print your file with any device due to their secure cloud storage. LawDistrict’s tools are designed for both individuals and businesses, covering most legal areas and always meeting state law regulations. The website offers 7-day full access to all legal forms with unlimited downloads for $1.95. You can then upgrade to a $7.99/month plan, which is significantly cheaper than most other do-it-yourself form builder websites.
Zen Business: Similar to IncFile, ZenBusiness specializes in business registration services. What separates ZenBusiness from competitors is the legal entity management packages. ZenBusiness does not offer legal services aside from its business formation. It has excellent customer service and is a serious competitor to IncFile, though not as affordable. The subscription packages will typically include rush business filing, EIN registration, and a domain name. If you want to form quickly, ZenBusiness is the perfect solution.
How We Ranked Online Legal Services
We evaluated each of the Online Legal Services based on the list of criteria, outlined below:
Range of services
Ease of use
Range of available documents
Availability of free trial
Security of stored documentation
Quality of Customer Service
Ratings And Complaints From Various Sites
During our test period, IncFile, Legal Nature, and Legal Zoom stood out for a myriad of reasons. Primarily, they are the most affordable, the easiest to use, and able to complete the essential business functions. At the end of the day, you want an online legal service that makes it simple to create, file, and access key business documents.
However, suppose you have specific requirements in a particular field (such as commercial real estate, health care services, construction, etc ). In that case, you might need to find an industry-specific legal service. Each industry will have specific documents that the more generic online legal services may not handle.
To offset this, you can still use a service like LegalZoom. They will put you in touch with one of their attorneys when you need specific documents created. For all the base documents, the core service will have you covered.
What to Look For In Online Legal Services
What you are looking for in an online legal service will vary depending on your business. If you only need business formation, then you need an easy way to form business documents at a low cost. Remember that you can do this for free yourself, though the state fees are mandatory.
Young businesses will have less of a need for legal services, but as the business grows, so will its legal needs. Consider this when selecting an online legal service, as you would not want to pay for services you don’t use. Select a vetted online legal service, as you would not want to hire a sub-par legal service that will cause more harm than good for your business.
If your business needs specific documents, then you should check the list of document templates on the legal service’s website to see if they provide those document templates. Most online legal services should cater to the legal documents that you need; but if you are involved in a niche industry, such as healthcare or intellectual property, you need to onboard with a provider that can cater to this specific industry.
For instance, if you happen to be a medium-sized company looking to cater to Human Resource documents, then your standard items will include:
- Confidentiality Agreement
- Consulting Services Agreement
- Employee Confidentiality Agreement
- Employee Handbook
- Employee Non-Disclosure Agreement
- Employment Agreement
- Employment Contract
- Employment Offer Letter
- Independent Contractor Agreement
- Independent Contractor Confidentiality Agreement
- Independent Contractor Non-Disclosure Agreement
- Job Offer Letter
- Mutual Confidentiality Agreement
- Mutual Non-Disclosure Agreement
- Non-Compete Agreement
- Non-Disclosure Agreement
5 Questions to Ask Before You Select an Online Legal Service
Here are some essential questions you need to ask before you go and hire an online legal service, as this is a sensitive and critical aspect of your business dealings:
Does this legal service provide what my business needs right now?
What is the cost of this legal service in comparison to others?
How easy is this service to use?
How old and reliable is this service?
What kind of rating does this company have? (Use Better Business Bureau, Trustpilot, and Consumer Affairs as reference points)
Remember, you will be providing important data to these companies. Do not do so lightly. Make sure they are trustworthy and that you will have a smooth experience with them.
An online legal service can help your business out, though it will depend on what you are looking for in such a service. From the many available options, I recommend you use IncFile for business formation. For document creation, LegalNature has you covered. And for legal advisory services, LegalZoom is the most affordable and professional.
Don’t make things any more complex than they need to be. For your peace of mind and the good of your business, an extra $10 a month is definitely worth it, instead of maintaining all of the forms and documents yourself.