Why Choosing LegalZoom Over an Attorney May Leave You Feeling Less of the “Legal” and More of just the “Zoom”
By: Joshua Hancock, Law Clerk, Dorman, Bell & Kramer, LLP
You need a contract drafted or your looking for a quick way to start a business. You do some research online and end up clicking the link to LegalZoom. It all sounds good plus you’ll save money! The following addresses why using LegalZoom without first consulting an attorney may cost you more in the end.
There is No Need to Pay for Forms
Back in the day, finding DIY legal forms proved difficult. Today, the internet has made accessing legal forms and templates much easier. For example, if you’re starting your own business, you must file the appropriate paperwork with the Texas Secretary of State. With a quick visit to the The Texas Secretary of State, under Business Filings, one can find business formation requirements, common FAQs, and free business formation forms.
The Problem with LegalZoom
LegalZoom provides a false sense of security. LegalZoom advertises under their “About us” page they’ve spent “fifteen years dedicated to improving access to quality legal care.” Really? LegalZoom claims they can produce your legal documents in a quick and easy 3 Step process. The problem is LegalZoom’s disclaimer:
LegalZoom is not a law firm. LegalZoom admits they cannot “provide any kind of advice, explanation, opinion, or recommendation about possible legal rights, remedies, defenses, options, selection of forms or strategies.” LegalZoom does offer access to real attorneys, but there is no flat rate. If you have a quick legal inquiry, you can chat with an attorney with pricing starting at $31.25 per month.
LegalZoom has helped launched over one million businesses and the website is littered with positive testimonials. No doubt, but how many of the testimonials come from customers who encountered actual litigation because of a LegalZoom-produced document?
LegalZoom provides general information on commonly encountered legal issues. The problem is every potential client is like a snowflake, no two ever alike. Every single client has different concerns, different goals, and different experiences. Truly knowing the ins-and-outs of what a client genuinely wants takes a professional ear, not a 15-minute fill-in-the-blank questionnaire.
Currently Using a LegalZoom Produced Document?
If you’re currently using a LegalZoom produced document, don’t fret. You can always contact an attorney who can look over the document. There may be nothing to fix. However, depending on the kind of document and as long as you’re not facing pending litigation, generally an attorney can amend flaws or tighten specific language within the document without having to start the entire process all the way over.
Piece of Mind
I cannot stress enough; every situation is different. LegalZoom is a perfect alternative if you’re looking for a simple document. Even having an attorney draft your legal document does not always guarantee a client will be shielded from future potential liability. But if you’re looking for comfort at night, consulting with an attorney is probably your best bet opposed to a hiring a non-law firm to draft your legal documents.
My first-year Contract professor loved paraphrasing a quote from the great Mark Twain by hammering home, “The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter—it’s the difference between a lightning bug and a lightning strike.”
Does your document contain lightning bolts or is filled with just the bugs?