We get this question more often than you may think.
LegalZoom (LZ) is a well-funded, well-executed Internet company. They are blazing a trail where I personally believe my profession (i.e. we attorneys) have failed to properly serve the public — in providing low-cost, flat-rate legal services where and when possible.
LZ is forcing us attorney to ask ourselves, “How can we, as lawyers, do better to serve the public good?”
Thus, starts my “love-hate relationship” with LZ. I respect them, for what they are trying to accomplish relating to the provision of legal services. I am annoyed by them, for several several reasons.
First, is that some circumstances are very complicated and they over-simplify the offerings to make sales on the Internet. For example, take trademark registration. If you use LZ to register a trademark, studies have shown that “pro se trademark applicants” experience more than a 80% refusal rate with their trademark application. If you use a licensed trademark lawyer, it’s less than 50%. And, that doesn’t count all the business we turn away, simply because I’m telling people “we’re happy to take your money, but I think the USPTO will reject the application because of X or Y or Z.” Very few people go forward with a trademark application, after being told that by a trademark attorney. LZ doesn’t have (nor can they have) such discussions with their clients.
Second, many of the offerings by both LZ and L4SB — on the Internet — have long-term implications. If you give us the opportunity, we’re going to try and inform you of those implication. Whether LLC formation, Corporate formation or template contracts, what you do today may “feel right” or give you a sense of “mission accomplished,” but what you may have done, is inadvertently just setoff the timer on a ticking time-bomb, only to blow up and force you into bankruptcy 5 years from now. LZ just isn’t equipped to tell you that a LLC is a bad idea, and instead you should get a PC, for example.
Third, we lawyers are very much constrained by the Professional Rules of Conduct, which exist to protect you the client. These rules prohibit us attorneys from doing all sorts of things that LZ can do: LZ can raise significant amounts of capital to outspend the competition in Internet advertising, refuse to give refunds after a certain period of time, and recognize revenue paid by clients even though the services haven’t been performed. All these advantages that LZ has over L4SB in competing in the marketplace makes it difficult for us lawyers to compete effectively — that’s why you find LZ everywhere on the Internet. I’ll give you one example. Suppose you’re looking for an actual “Trademark Attorney”, versus an Internet-company that professes to register a trademark? If you search “trademark lawyer” in Google, the chances are the entire first page of results doesn’t contain a single trademark lawyer, even locally.
So, why is L4SB better for you than LZ? Simply because our lawyers and paralegals do the work, not non-lawyers, for about the same price. We’re trained — and held professionally accountable — to provide outstanding, competent legal services. Additionally:
- Our pricing for flat-rate products is about the same as LZ, and even cheaper in many instances cases (i.e. compare Registered Agent pricing)
- Our offerings are much higher quality, because licensed attorneys and paralegals are actually doing the work
- Your chance of success and long-term viability is greatly increased, because we are focused on that as attorneys
- We can offer attorney-client privilege and confidentiality, LZ cannot
There are many other reasons, if you’re interested. Read our webpage entitled, Lawyers not Scriveners.