LegalZoom

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LegalZoom.com, Inc.
TypePublic company
Industry
FoundedMarch 12, 2001; 21 years ago (2001-03-12)
Founders
HeadquartersGlendale, California, U.S.
Area served
United States
Key people
RevenueIncrease US$575 million[2] (2021)
Decrease US$–109 million (2021)
Number of employees
1,218 (December 31, 2021)
Websitelegalzoom.com

LegalZoom.com, Inc. is an American online legal technology company that helps its customers create legal documents without necessarily having to hire a lawyer. Available documents include wills and living trusts,[3] business formation documents,[4] copyright registrations, and trademark applications. The company also offers attorney referrals and registered agent services.[5]

Cited as a disruption to traditional consumer legal services,[6] the company asserts that this disruption benefits people who otherwise could not hire a lawyer by expanding their access to legal services.[7]

History[edit]

LegalZoom was founded by Brian S. Lee,[8] Brian Liu,[9] Edward Hartman,[10] and Robert Shapiro.[11] The company began offering legal service products to the public on March 12, 2001.[12]

LegalZoom was a nominee for the American Bar Association's 2005 Louis M. Brown Award.[13] In 2011, Business Insider ranked LegalZoom 27th on its list of the world's most valuable startups,[14] and in 2012, Fast Company ranked LegalZoom 26th on its list of the most innovative companies.[15]

In September 2012, LegalZoom formed a partnership with the United Kingdom-based legal services provider QualitySolicitors, as part of which the companies jointly offer online legal services in the United Kingdom including company formations and divorce documents.[16]

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.[17] On February 14, 2014 Permira announced that the deal was complete.[18]

In 2015, LegalZoom announced they were to make their first UK acquisition. The acquired firm was Beaumont Legal, a 200-year-old firm in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, England which describes itself as one of the largest conveyancers in the country.[19]

In 2021, LegalZoom acquired Earth Class Mail.[20]

Reception[edit]

Based on concerns that LegalZoom's services were a form of legal advice, the North Carolina State Bar issued a cease and desist order in 2008. After an investigation by a special referee, the court determined that LegalZoom's practices "do not constitute the unauthorized practice of law". Similar lawsuits in other states were settled or dismissed.[21]

The September 2012 issue of Consumer Reports magazine gave mixed reviews to 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." The Consumer Reports review also said 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.[22]

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."[23]

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.[24] 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.[25] 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."[26]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Leadership: Management Team, Board of Directors, Legal Advisory Board". LegalZoom. Retrieved March 3, 2021.
  2. ^ "Annual report for year ending December 31, 2021".
  3. ^ Bernstein, Fred (16 May 2002). "Being of Sound Mind, and a $55 Consultation". The New York Times. Retrieved July 3, 2017.
  4. ^ "Incorporation: The Web Can Help". PC Magazine. Retrieved July 3, 2017.
  5. ^ "Registered agent market share". Northwest Registered Agent, LLC. Retrieved July 3, 2017.
  6. ^ Sonderegger, Dean (June 27, 2017). "Want To Know The Future Of Legal Tech? Ask Your Accountant". Above the Law. Retrieved June 9, 2022.
  7. ^ Li, Victor (March 17, 2017). "Avvo, LegalZoom and Rocket Lawyer CEOs say their products help bridge access-to-justice gap". ABA Journal. American Bar Association. Retrieved May 19, 2017.
  8. ^ Chang, Andrea. "Entrepreneur Brian Lee is business partner to the stars". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on April 2, 2013. Retrieved July 3, 2017.
  9. ^ "Starting a Business in A Down Economy: The LegalZoom Story". legalzoom.com. December 1, 2009. Retrieved June 9, 2022.
  10. ^ "Edward Hartman". LegalZoom. May 2, 2022. Retrieved June 9, 2022.
  11. ^ "First online dating, then online wedding planning, now this". USA Today. January 22, 2004.
  12. ^ "LLRXBuzz". Archived from the original on 2012-02-21. Retrieved 2012-01-16.
  13. ^ "List of Recipients and Nominees - Louis M. Brown Award for [Increasing] Legal Access" (PDF). American Bar Association Standing Committee on The Delivery of Legal Services. 2005. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 19, 2005. Nominee: LegalZoom.com
  14. ^ "The 100 Most Valuable Startups In The World, Revamped And Revised!" Business Insider, October 7, 2011.
  15. ^ David Lidsky, "Most Innovative Companies 2012," Fast Company, February 7, 2012.
  16. ^ "LegalZoom to tie up with QualitySolicitors for British launch". The Lawyer. 20 September 2012. Retrieved 22 September 2012.
  17. ^ "Permira to take controlling stake in LegalZoom.com". www.reuters.com. Reuters. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
  18. ^ http://www.socaltech.com/permira_completes____m_legalzoom_buy/s-0053598.html
  19. ^ Hyde, John (December 7, 2015). "LegalZoom to make first UK acquisition". The Law Society Gazette. London. Retrieved June 2, 2017.
  20. ^ "LegalZoom Acquires Leading Virtual Mailbox Provider, Earth Class Mail". investors.legalzoom.com. Glendale, CA. 10 November 2021. Retrieved 17 December 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  21. ^ Ambrogi, Robert (August 2014). "Latest legal victory has LegalZoom poised for growth". ABA Journal.
  22. ^ "Legal DIY websites are no match for a pro: They provide services for a fraction of what you'd pay a lawyer". Consumer Reports. September 2012. Retrieved May 30, 2017.
  23. ^ "Legalzoom Reviews by Experts & Customers [Updated 2016]". Blogtrepreneur. 2016. Retrieved June 30, 2017.
  24. ^ Rogers, Joan (July 26, 2016). "N.C. Law Regulates LegalZoom, Other Legal Doc Providers". Bloomberg BNA. Retrieved June 14, 2017.
  25. ^ Kroh, Eric (June 13, 2016). "DOJ, FTC Say Legal Documents Software Helps Consumers". Law360 ("A LexisNexis Company"). Retrieved May 24, 2017.
  26. ^ "Joint advisory letter from the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice, re North Carolina HB 436" (PDF). June 10, 2016. Retrieved May 24, 2017. [C]onsider the benefits of interactive websites for consumers and competition...

External links[edit]