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|Founded||March 12, 2001|
|Headquarters||Glendale, California, United States|
|Revenue||$200 million |
Number of employees
LegalZoom.com, Inc. is an online legal technology company that provides legal solutions for families and small business. Through the platform, customers can access legal help for products including wills and living trusts, business formation documents, copyright registrations and trademark applications. The company also offers legal help through a network of independent attorneys and registered agent services.
LegalZoom is often described as a disruptive innovator in the market for legal services. By using computer technology to render services at lower prices, the company also helps expand the ability of consumers and small business owners to access legal services.
LegalZoom was founded by Brian P. Y. Liu, Brian S. Lee, Edward R. Hartman, and Robert Shapiro. Lee, Hartman, and Liu felt that since they were unknowns, they needed to attach someone to the company that people trusted. They came up with a list of potential candidates and decided on Robert Shapiro. Lee got Shapiro's phone number and called him at 8:30pm believing he would be leaving a voice mail, but Shapiro personally answered the phone and after discussion, liked the concept.
The company began offering legal service products to the public on March 12, 2001.
LegalZoom has been recognized a number of times over the years for its entrepreneurial acumen. In 2011, Business Insider ranked LegalZoom 27th on its list of the world's most valuable startups, and in 2012, Fast Company ranked LegalZoom 26th on its list of the most innovative companies.
In September 2012 it was announced that LegalZoom had formed a partnership with the United Kingdom-based legal services provider QualitySolicitors, as part of which the companies will jointly offer online legal services in the United Kingdom including company formations and divorce documents.
The September 2012 issue of Consumer Reports magazine evaluated and compared the computer-aided legal forms generated by LegalZoom and two of its competitors, Nolo (formerly Nolo Press) and Rocket Lawyer. The evaluation found that all three companies provided documents "for a fraction of what you’d pay a lawyer." Additionally, the CR review found that "[u]sing any of the three services is generally better than drafting the documents yourself without legal training or not having them at all. But unless your needs are simple . . . none of the will-writing products is likely to entirely meet your needs." It also found in some cases, the other non-will documents weren’t specific enough or contained language that could potentially lead to an unintended result.
In 2013 LegalZoom purchased a 206,000-square-foot building at 9900 Spectrum Drive in the Davis Springs Spectrum Business Park in Austin, Texas for a reported $21 million. The Austin office acts as one of their headquarters and in July 2014 they installed a 260 kW solar electric system.
On January 6, 2014 European private capital firm Permira announced its intent to acquire $200 million in the outstanding equity of LegalZoom and become its largest shareholder pending regulatory approval. On February 14, 2014 Permira announced that the deal was complete.
In 2015 LegalZoom announced they were to make their first UK acquisition. The acquired firm are Beaumont Legal, a 200-year-old firm in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, England which describes itself as one of the largest conveyancers in the country.
LegalZoom provides legal services in various common categories including copyrights, DBAs, business formation, trusts, wills, patents, power of attorney, pre-nuptial agreements, real estate leases. The company also offers legal plans through its network of independent attorneys.
A 2016 analysis posted on the e-commerce blogging site "Blogtrepreneur" examined some of the reviews given to LegalZoom by experts and by its customers. The analysis found that "not all of the LegalZoom reviews have been flattering," but noted that the company is accredited by the Better Business Bureau, that it has been in business since 2001, and called LegalZoom "a fairly noteworthy and respected business."
Middle-class families and small business owners are the primary target markets for LegalZoom's services. The company's efforts to render affordable, quality legal services to these two groups reflects a broader global trend in which legal service providers are attempting to harness computer technology to supply ever-more-proficient services at lower costs.
Increasing access to legal services
Since LegalZoom often uses computer technology to render legal services at lower prices than traditional lawyers, it is frequently cited as an example of "disruptive innovation" in the legal marketplace. This disruption benefits people who otherwise could not hire a lawyer by expanding their access to legal services.
In 2015 LegalZoom and the North Carolina State Bar Association settled years of litigation by agreeing that companies like LegalZoom which offer automated legal document preparation will not violate North Carolina's prohibitions against the unauthorized practice of law if the companies register with the state and comply with certain consumer protection procedures. Following the settlement, the US Federal Trade Commission and the US Department of Justice jointly advised the North Carolina Legislature that the state should avoid placing overly broad restrictions on companies that offer computer-facilitated legal services. In discussing the potential benefits from such software and websites, the two agencies stated that "[i]nteractive software for generating legal forms may be more cost-effective for some consumers, may exert downward price pressure on licensed lawyer services, and may promote the more efficient and convenient provision of legal services. Such products may also help increase access to legal services . . . ."
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[C]onsider the benefits of interactive websites for consumers and competition . . .
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Is It a Brave New World or an Ethical Quagmire
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