The world of online legal services is as varied and confusing as the legal problems most people face.
Dozens of different providers claim to offer the widest range of services at the best prices with the most patient and polite support on the market. But not everyone can sit atop the lofty perch of success and look down upon their competition. Someone has to come in second place!
To make sure you get the best online legal services to support yourself in both your personal and professional life, I’ve reviewed, compared, and ranked the market. Here are the results of my investigation into the best online legal services.
1. LegalShield — 9.13/10 (Best online legal service)
LegalShield is my #1 recommendation because their legal services cover just about every challenge, issue, and concern you could have in both your personal and professional life, and they are the only online legal service that has no restrictions on how much time you can spend discussing these issues with their legal team.
There’s a lot to love about LegalShield.
First of all, they provide legal advice and support for just about every legal issue you can expect to encounter in your personal and business life.
This includes personal issues, such as negotiating traffic violations, license reinstatement, divorce, adoption, standard and living will preparations, power of attorney, mortgage application preparation and review, name change, emergency consultations (such as serious injury, arrests, and warrants), audit support, and just about every other legal matter.
This legal assistance also includes in-state small business issues (including preexisting matters), such as employee onboarding, government compliance, identity theft, letters of demand, bankruptcy, incorporation, landlord disputes, equipment leases, city zoning, and much more. This also includes out-of-state matters, such as international law, audits, trademarks, immigration, intellectual property, patents, securities, and whatever other challenges you face. Basically, if you run into ANY legal issues, LegalShield can provide advice and support.
They can help with these matters in a number of different ways, including discussing the matter via telephone, detailing your legal options and obligations, reviewing legal documents, and writing letters and making phone calls on your behalf.
On top of this, if any of your legal issues ends up in court, LegalShield provides trial defense for you or your spouse as part of your membership. This starts at 60 hours in your first year and increases the longer you stay a member, up to 300 hours in your fifth year. Given that trial defense lawyers start at $300/hour, the longer you stay a member of LegalShield, the more your membership changes from online legal service to a legal insurance service.
But the one thing that really separates LegalShield from the rest of the competition is the time limits on speaking with their lawyers, or more specifically, the lack of time limits.
Two other online legal service providers on this list offer consultations with lawyers, but they limit you to one half hour per legal issue, with a maximum of 10 legal issues per year. If you need additional consultation about that same legal issue or have more than 10 questions per year, you need to purchase these legal consultations (which are offered at a discount to the lawyer’s normal pricing).
This means that while you can get some initial legal advice as part of your legal issues, if the matter is even slightly complex (and what legal issue isn’t?), you can still end up paying tens of thousands of dollars on top of your membership fees to resolve the issue.
You won’t have that problem with LegalShield. They don’t restrict your consultations with lawyers regarding personal and in-state legal matters in any way. You can contact their lawyers as often as you want about any legal topics until your legal situation is resolved, without paying any additional cost.
Although the small business plan limits some features, such as non-state-specific issues (three separate legal issues for 30 minutes per issue), letters and phone calls on your behalf (up to 10 per month), legal document reviews (up to 10 documents per year of up to 15 pages), and collections letters (up to 5 per month), you still get far more than you do with the other online legal service providers.
With over 900 lawyers in their network with an average of 22 years of experience each, their $29/month personal plan, $49/month business plan represent excellent value.
But on top of this, LegalShield offers an upgrade to their small business plan called “Business Plus.”
When you sign up, you get access to a website builder to develop your online presence, customer relationship management (CRM) tools so you never miss a sale, access to their online form customizer that allows you to complete and download all the most common forms you need to run your business, and a small business operations and management advisor to support you as you grow your business.
Considering that small business advisors can charge up to $2,000/day, the additional $14.95/month makes this a steal.
The only con with LegalShield is that if you’re only looking to customize and download legal forms then they’re a more expensive option. You have to purchase their small business plan for $49/month as well as their Business Plus package to get access, making them more expensive than the companies who just provide legal forms.
But what’s the point of downloading and customizing these legal forms if they don’t legally protect you? And how do you know they protect you if you don’t have the documents reviewed by a lawyer?
LegalShield is more expensive than other companies who just provide access to legal documents, but considering that a typical lawyer’s hourly rate to review documents starts at $200/hour, LegalShield costs far less if you want to make sure those legal forms actually protect you.
LegalShield takes the #1 spot on my list of the best online legal services by providing the most access to the things you really need—actual legal advice from an experienced lawyer—of any online legal service provider.
Their personal plan includes unlimited consultations (the only online legal service to provide unlimited consultations) with one of their 900 lawyers for all estate planning, real estate, family law, emergency situations (such as serious injury in car accident or arrest), and courtroom representation, and their business plan includes unlimited consultations on any in-state legal issues (such as employment, collections, suppliers, bankruptcy, leases, and much more) and three consultations on out-of-state issues, including trademarks, patents, and intellectual property.
If you upgrade to their Business Plus package, you also get access to a website builder, their legal form database, CRM tools, and unlimited guidance from a small business advisor.
At $29/month for their personal plan and $49/month for their small business plan, they offer far more value than any other online legal service, so they were an easy pick for the #1 spot.
If you want an entire team of experienced lawyers able to support you with whatever legal issues you face, for less than the cost of a normal lawyer’s initial meeting fee, sign up with LegalShield today.
2. Rocket Lawyer — 7.85/10 (Lots of legal docs but limited lawyer access)
Rocket Lawyer comes in at #2 on my list by offering the largest range of services (especially legal documents), but severely restricting your access to their lawyers.
Rocket Lawyer offers a truly comprehensive service.
When you sign up for their $39.99/month package, you get access to their on-call lawyers, services such as “Document Defense” (where they will provide legal support on any contract disputes, and access to their impossibly large catalog of legal documents.
Seriously, the list of documents they have available is almost comical.
For example, they have 34 categories of legal documents in just their “business” section. With each containing an average of 13 documents, you can start to do the math. When you combine this with the legal forms in their real estate, family, and personal sections, the number of forms to which you have access is truly mind-blowing.
The fact that Rocket Lawyer’s services cover just about every legal situation in which you could find yourself doesn’t mean they offer the most value.
While they do have an enormous catalog of forms and lawyers on standby to answer your questions, they severely limit the time you can speak with those lawyers.
You’re only entitled to one 30-minute consultation per legal matter on up to 10 different legal matters per year with your $39.99/month subscription. You can purchase additional time with their lawyers at up to 40% off those lawyer’s standard rates, but when lawyers’ fees can run into tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars, 40% off will still leave you with a hefty bill.
On top of this, Rocket Lawyer does not provide any courtroom representation.
If you are taken to court for any matter, you will either have to pay for your own lawyer or risk representing yourself. Given the significant number of hours it can take to not only prepare for any trial, but also represent you at trial, these costs can add up to hundreds of thousands very quickly.
The fact that LegalShield offers both courtroom representation and unlimited consultations on all personal and in-state business legal matters as part of their standard packages is the primary reason why Rocket Lawyer is #2 on my list.
Rocket Lawyer landed at #2 on my list by offering a very comprehensive legal service with two significant limitations to their terms.
They have the largest catalog of online legal documents and provide on-call lawyers with whom you can consult on any legal issues you might face.
But you’re limited to consulting with their legal team for 30 minutes per legal issue on up to 10 legal topics per year and they do not provide any courtroom legal representation as part of their $39.99/month membership.
With the insane speed at which lawyer bills can pile up, a membership with Rocket Lawyer could end up costing you a LOT of money in the long run.
Despite that, if all you want is access to the legal documents with a bit of lawyer support, they’re not a bad option. You can check out their website to learn more.
3. LegalNature — 6.75/10 (Best for only legal documents)
If you only need legal forms and documents, LegalNature is the best option available because while they only provide legal forms and documents, they have a great customization system and they’re significantly cheaper than the competition.
If you want legal documents, LegalNature has them.
Their business forms include employee offer letters, arbitration agreements, security agreements, waivers of notice, business plans, S-Corp formation documents, and everything in between. Their real estate forms include rental applications and agreements, lease agreements and amendments, sublease agreements, property deeds, mortgage agreements, real estate purchase agreements, and just about everything you need for your accommodation needs. And their family and personal legal forms include living and standard wills, healthcare proxies, power of attorney, divorce settlements, pre and postnuptial agreements, and just about any form you need to either prevent or get you out of any personal legal mess.
These forms are all easily customizable within their membership platform and, to top it off, they’re pretty cheap.
The obvious drawback with LegalNature is that they don’t provide attorney services. You can’t call them when you have a legal issue, they won’t review your documents, and they won’t represent you in court.
If you really want these attorney services as well as access to these legal documents, pairing your LegalNature membership with LegalShield will ensure you have everything you need.
The other cost is the price. At $39/month, they’re more expensive than LegalShield’s $29/month personal plan and only $10/month less than their small business plan. When you consider that LegalShield will draft up to 10 legal documents for you per month, this seems very expensive.
LegalNature offers a huge range of easy-to-customize legal documents covering just about every legal issue for which you could need documents. Their monthly package is expensive ($39/month), but their annual subscription price of $159/year works out to be only $13.25/month.
While they don’t offer attorney services, pairing LegalNature with LegalShield means you can cover all your legal needs. If you’re just looking for access to online legal documents, check out LegalNature here.
LegalZoom is the grand old lady of the online legal services world and as the established leader, relies on its reputation to attract customers rather than using superior product offerings.
This was initially evident on their website.
It was almost impossible to find the details about what is and is not included in the LegalZoom subscription plans. The only way to find them is to click on the “select your plan” button and then find the “legal plan contract” hidden in small print under the price.
Once you discover this contract, you then need to decipher the legalese to work out what is and is not included in the LegalZoom plan.
The second piece of evidence that LegalZoom is not working hard for your business is their product offerings.
The LegalZoom subscription plan is essentially just legal consultations with an external law firm. You get one half-hour phone consultation per legal matter and then a review of up to 10 pages of legal forms or documents, with recommendations.
There are no apparent limits to the number of legal issues on which LegalZoom will consult, but it is strictly limited to one consultation per legal matter. If you require further consultation, you can purchase legal services from the consulting lawyer or law firm at a 25% discount off their standard rates.
This means you can pay $40 per month to use LawDepot’s collection of online documents and their admittedly excellent customization and storage service, or you can pay $13.25 per month with LegalNature.
The best way to think about Nolo is as less of an online legal services company and more of an online legal bookshop.
They offer a huge variety of legal advice books and customizable legal documents at a range of prices.
The reason they’re toward the bottom of this list is that, unlike LegalNature and LawDepot, these documents aren’t customizable within their online system. You need to download them and edit them yourself.
This means that you also cannot save your edited legal documents in their online system, and they don’t offer an online signing system either.
The ease with which you can make a mistake by editing legal documents yourself and the potentially serious impacts of making a mistake is the reason I do not recommend you use them.
7. Blumberg Excelsior
To be honest I don’t really know what Blumberg Excelsior offers. Their website is a confusing and jumbled mess that looks like it was designed in the mid-90s by an office intern and hasn’t been updated since.
They appear to offer some services related to starting a business, general counsel, and compliance packages, as well as some legal document service, but I’m unsure of this last one because clicking the link to the document service takes you to a separate website!
If you can identify a cohesive mission statement or singular objective within this catastrophe of a website, let me know and I’ll email you some cute cat photos.
Best Online Legal Services Review Summary
The online legal services world is a confusing and jumbled mess of offerings.
After reviewing the leading players in the field, I can conclusively say that the best online legal service is LegalShield.
Their $29/month personal plan and $49/month business plan offer everything you need to ensure you get the right advice. They can advise you on any personal legal matters, including standard and living will preparations, divorce, mortgage applications, adoptions, power of attorney, emergency situations (such as warrants and arrests), and much more. They can also advise on in-state small business issues, such as hiring and firing staff, equipment leases, government compliance, landlord disputes, and everything in between.
There are no limits to how many issues you can raise with their lawyers regarding personal matters and in-state business issues, and they will even provide up to 300 hours of trial defense should you or your spouse have to stand before a judge.
With over 900 lawyers in their network who average 22 years experience each, LegalShield is the best online legal service.
If you want the security of being backed by a team of lawyers you can call at any moment, head to LegalShield today.
Best Online Legal Service Review Methodology
I used the following procedure to determine the best online legal services.
Why You Should Trust Me
You should trust my online legal service suggestions because I have spent more time and money researching the online legal services sector than any reasonable person would.
It all started when I needed a lawyer to help me sort out a small business dispute. I didn’t have the time to call up random legal hotlines off the yellow pages (yes, I am that old) or drive around town looking for law firms. I decided to try the services of an online legal service that was recommended by a colleague. Unfortunately, the firm I settled for provided such unsatisfactory services that the whole process was quite disappointing in the end.
After a while I found myself facing a similar legal conundrum. This time, I happened upon LegalShield and they helped me sort out my legal issues without any hiccups. I especially liked their affordable $49 monthly business plan and the fact that I could contact their legal team countless times without worrying about consultation fees. Finally, my faith in online legal services was restored.
They say the third time’s the charm . . . and they’d be right! When it was time to finally settle my mortgage payment, I was quite experienced with the online legal services industry. This time around I settled for Rocket Lawyer, due to the wide array of legal forms and document templates they provide.
My experience, however, is not restricted to just using these services. During my comprehensive search for online legal services, I interviewed a few acquaintances about their experiences with online legal businesses, and a consistent pattern emerged. There is a lot of legal advice floating around, and much of it is either technical language or too confusing to grasp.
So I created LinerLaw to help people choose the right online legal service provider to help them with their legal needs and I’ve since helped over 1,000 people achieve just that.
How I Selected the Best Online Legal Service
I reviewed these online legal services through the following four-stage review process.
Stage 1: Reviews
The first phase was to analyze the online reviews of all major online legal services, which meant spending days searching review sites like TrustPilot, Google Business, FaceBook, and the Better Business Bureau, as most of these legal services encourage their clients to post their positive or negative experiences on these websites.
This approach allowed me to separate the legal services that offered substandard services from those that were legitimate and offered high-quality services.
Stage 2: Website Analysis
After weeding out these second-rate legal services, I logged on to the remaining online legal service providers and analyzed their offerings, claims, and disclosures, which enabled me to understand the services that each company offered and how they differed from each other or, rather, how they positioned themselves in the market.
Stage 3: Speaking With Real Clients
For this next step, I decided to get in touch with actual clients and find out whether these online legal services were living up to their claims. Of course, I could have relied on online reviews to answer my questions, but those reviews tend to be skewed towards very negative or very positive experiences.
I spoke to friends who had dealt with an online legal service before, people who used my website, people to whom I had previously referred an online legal service so that I could find out what their experiences with these companies were.
Stage 4: Speaking With Their Sales Teams
For this final stage, I contacted the sales and clients service teams of each online legal service and pushed them for answers on some of the negative feedback they had received from their customers on online review sites. This enabled me to see how their support teams performed under pressure and how well they handled criticism.
While working through the four-stage review process, I used the following five factors to rate these online legal services.
Factor 1: Offerings
Some online legal services offer a wide range of legal assistance services, such as unlimited access to their in-house legal team, review of legal documents, making phone calls on behalf of their clients, a large array of legal forms and documents, and consultations that cover a wide range of legal issues.
Other online legal services will simply provide a couple of legal forms and documents and outsource all legal issues to an external law firm. I pushed these companies to the bottom of the list to make room for those that offer more comprehensive services.
Factor 2: Price
The next factor I used in my analysis process was price. There is no point in spending a fortune for limited legal services.
Some LLC services will charge you $159/year for access to legal documents without providing attorney defense. Then there are other online legal services, such as LegalShield, that offer a wide range of services (including attorney defense) in their $29 monthly plan. This analysis allowed me to isolate those that offered the best value for money from those that didn’t.
Factor 3: Ease of Sign-Up
The third criterion I used to rate these services was their simplicity of registration.
Some online legal services have old legacy systems that appear to have been designed in the late 1990s, whilst others have modern, user-friendly platforms that eliminate the hard work of signing up.
I signed up for each of these online legal services in order to go through their registration procedure and confirm that any faults or problems in the data gathering process had been removed.
Factor 4: Ease of Use
I expanded my analysis of the sign-up procedure to other portions of each website to see how easy (or difficult) they were to browse through. This research technique enabled me to distinguish between online legal services with intuitive and simple back-end systems and those that were redundant and took more time and effort to navigate.
Factor 5: Customer Service
This is where I discovered the discrepancy in how most online legal services handle their clients.
Some services have outsourced customer support to call centers in other nations staffed by people unfamiliar with the American legal system. As a result, you’ll end up wasting a lot of valuable time attempting to explain your problems. Other online legal services, such as LegalShield and Rocket Lawyer, offer a staff of competent lawyers based in the United States who are eager and able to help you with any of your legal difficulties.
I contacted every customer support department through any means possible (online chats, emails, and phone calls) and pressed them for answers on some of the services they provide.
After examining the major online legal services, I can confidently state that LegalShield is currently the best online legal service.
Their $29/month personal plan and $49/month business plan include everything you need to obtain the best legal assistance in the market. They will help you with any personal legal issues, such as a mortgage application, power of attorney, divorce, adoption, emergency scenario (such as warrants and arrests), standard and living will preparation, and much more.
They also assist with in-state small business challenges, including hiring and leasing equipment, dismissing employees, landlord conflicts, and government compliance.
Sign up with LegalShield today if you need a team of competent attorneys to help you with all legal challenges you are facing for less than the cost of a typical lawyer’s consultation charge.