Legal counsel can be expensive. For many small businesses, the occasional need to draft a legal document or obtain legal advice doesn’t merit full-time legal counsel. With limited funds, many small businesses are turning to the Internet for legal advice. But Googling your questions can be risky, especially if you don’t double-check your results. Several online legal sites are available, but how can you know which one to trust.
NextAdvisor is here to help. The site refers individuals and businesses to the best online services in a variety of categories. Below are the legal services NextAdvisor recommends for small businesses seeking legal advice.
- LegalZoom. If you have a radio or TV set, you’ve heard of LegalZoom. All that advertising is paying off. LegalZoom is one of the most popular online legal services available. Geared toward the legal novice, LegalZoom provides easy-to-understand paperwork for everything from forming an LLC to trademarking or patenting ideas. For just $29.99 a month, businesses can have real advice from legal counsel licensed in the state in which the business is located. But if you’re simply looking to obtain a trademark, you can get away with paying on a per-service basis with this site.
- RocketLawyer. RocketLawyer is based on monthly fees, so it’s designed for businesses that need ongoing legal services. It’s a little higher-priced than LegalZoom at $39.99 per month for business accounts but, according to NextAdvisor, the site has more forms and services than the others, so you may find it well worth it.
- CorpNet. Designed solely for businesses, CorpNet is standing by to help you fill out your paperwork to form an LLC or ask for a patent. Ready to incorporate your business? CorpNet has the forms for it. Packages begin at $49 plus applicable state fees.
- U.S. Legal. This site is not for the newbie. It specializes in do-it-yourself forms for businesses and individuals. Nobody has as many forms as U.S. Legal, but unless you know what you’re looking for and what forms you need, you may get lost in the complicated interface and legalese. The site is rated lower than the others for its difficulty in use, as well as issues like charging extra fees to file forms.
So, after seeing all of this, you may wonder why bother paying legal counsel with all this online help. As TacticalIP’s Scott Nyman pointed out, these services provide no guarantee of the services you receive from them. Nyman quotes from LegalZoom’s terms of service.
“[LegalZoom provides] an automated software solution to individuals who choose to prepare their own legal documents,” LegalZoom writes. “At no time do we review your answers for legal sufficiency, draw legal conclusions, provide legal advice, or apply the law to the facts of your particular situation.” The site then goes on to say it is no substitute for the advice of an attorney.
Let those be your words of caution.