Best Legal Services
Lawyers help individuals by providinglegal protection from lawsuits and criminal charges as well as planning for the future. Online services have made legal options and information more widely available and more affordable. People can use online legal services to find the right lawyer for their situation, have an online legal consultation, create legal documents, incorporate a business and get answers to basic legal questions.
Compare Reviews for Top Legal Services
Read 1,349 Reviews
LegalShield is a subscription service that provides a variety of covered legal services to members for a single monthly fee. They serve residents in 49 states and parts of Canada and have been in business for more than 40 years.
|LegalZoom||Read 731 Reviews|
LegalZoom has been in business for 15 years and helped over 300 million customers create their own legal documents. They sell legal document services and memberships for consultations to business owners and individuals.
Read 433 Reviews
Rocket Lawyer is an online platform for creating legal documents and getting legal advice. Customers can purchase services a la carte or by purchasing a monthly or yearly membership. They have tools for individuals and businesses.
|First American Title Insurance|
Read 52 Reviews
First American Title Insurance, a subsidiary of First American Financial Corporation, has roots going back to the 19th century. Their insurance policies protect owners from forgery, fraud and liens against their insured property.
Read 116 Reviews
ImmigrationDirect.com services and online programs helps individuals quickly and accurately complete all the paperwork needed for their U.S. immigration application. They offer telephone and email support 24/7.
|Law Offices of Patenaude & Felix|
Read 22 Reviews
Paternaude & Felix was founded in 1991. The firm offer creditors litigation services to collect debts. They have offices in Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington.
|BizFilings||Read Expert Review|
BizFiling is an online business incorporation service. The site sells a variety of services to help people start, manage and grow their businesses, and they help with filing all legal paperwork. The company was founded in 1996.
|Incorporate.com||Read Expert Review|
incorporate.com was founded as Corporation Service Company in Delaware in 1899. The company now operates in all 50 states and Washington DC. They help individuals establish and maintain several types of corporations.
|Lawyers.com||Read Expert Review|
Lawyers.com is a free service provided by Martindale-Hubbell that helps potential clients find a lawyer to help them with their specific case. The site has a directory of more than 1 million law firms in 160 countries.
|LegalMatch||Read Expert Review|
LegalMatch is a free service that matches potential clients to attorneys. People submit the details of their case and receive responses from qualified lawyers willing to take those cases. The service is available in all 50 states.
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Considerations when choosing an online legal service or getting legal advice
When hiring an attorney or other legal advisor, the cost may seem prohibitive. However, the Internet has made it easier than ever to find an affordable attorney. Different sites have different payment options, so consumers can find a service that works best for them.
- Membership: Some legal service websites offer monthly, semi-annual and/or annual memberships. The membership price includes access to the services of an affiliated lawyer. Memberships cover the total cost of some legal services; however, more complicated legal activities, such as a criminal defense at a trial, require the member to pay additional legal fees.
- Per-service: If you only need an attorney for a simple task, such as creating a legally binding will, a website that offers flat fees for a single service may be right for you. You can purchase a single document or have a brief session with an attorney and pay only for that service.
- Free: Websites that refer customers to lawyers are usually free to use. These websites don’t sell anything to customers. Instead, attorneys may pay a fee to be listed on the website.
You might need a variety of legal services at different times in your life. Some sites offer many services, and others focus on just a few services. Knowing what kind of service you need will help you select the best legal website to use.
- Personal: If you want to create personal legal documents or simply learn about a legal issue, any site that sells document services will probably meet your needs. If your needs are fairly straight-forward, the documents available online should be sufficient.
- Business: If you want to establish a business or get help managing a businesses’ legal paperwork, consider using a company that caters to business owners and entrepreneurs. These sites may be less expensive than an attorney, but they may not offer the same detailed legal advice as a consultation with a lawyer.
- Legal: If you have a complex estate, are making major changes to your business’ structure, are a party of a contested divorce and/or need legal counsel for a trial, you should hire a local attorney who specializes in the type of law you’re dealing with. Unless you already have a membership subscription, you will likely be best served by using a referral service.
Most legal websites allow users to create legal documents, whether for personal or business use. Consider how and where you want these documents stored.
- Cloud-based: Cloud-based storage lets users store things in the cloud, so they can access them anytime and anywhere. This service makes it easy to access documents, but you will need to make sure someone you trust can access the account if necessary.
- Secure: Any document storage service should offer top-grade security and encryption services. Make sure the website explains what security protocols and measures are in place so your personal information doesn’t end up in the wrong hands.
- Unavailable: Some sites only allow you to download and print documents. This service is good for anyone concerned about the safety of their online documents or who wants to make sure others can access them in an emergency. Legal documents should be stored in a secure location, like a home safe or safety deposit box, or left with an attorney.
Communication between an attorney and client is protected by attorney-client privilege. However, the presence of a third party can sometimes negate the confidentiality. Make sure to read any service’s fine print to determine whether communication sent through their website is legally protected.
- Covered: If you are highly concerned about the confidentiality of your communication, consider using a referral site so you can talk to a local attorney in person.
- Not covered: Many sites only work to connect lawyers and clients. Information you send through these website is likely not protected. Questions that you post on online legal forums are not protected.
Many legal documents can be prepared and submitted without the help of an actual attorney. Make sure you understand who will be helping you and what kind of credentials they have.
- Attorney: Membership sites and referral sites will direct you to a lawyer who is licensed and in good standing with the bar association in your state. Attorneys have attended law school and are qualified to answer your legal questions and represent you in court cases.
- Customer service representative: The credentials of the website’s customer service representatives will vary greatly depending on the company’s policies. These representatives will be able to help you prepare a variety of documents and refer you to an attorney if necessary.
If you’re looking for an attorney, you should be aware of how a referral service or subscription program selects lawyers to include in their directory or to partner with.
- Licensed: Websites should have a system in place to ensure that the providers they recommend are actually licensed in the state where you live. Consumers can always visit the website for the bar association in their state to confirm an attorney’s credentials.
- Qualified: Like doctors, many lawyers have a particular specialty. Use a website that clearly indicates whether they can match you with someone who has experience working with cases like yours.
- Professional: You want an attorney who will return your calls or emails in a timely manner and behave professionally. When using a referral website or membership program, check to see if they have a policy that dictates what they expect from recommended attorneys.
Types of online legal services
Websites that refer visitors to lawyers in their area typically display relevant information, like fee types and specialties, in addition to a lawyer’s contact information. Referral sites that have some sort of screening process and/or offer additional information and reviews may give potential clients a better sense of whether or not an attorney will be a good fit for them.
Sites that provide legal advice or help might do so in a variety of ways. Some websites offer a membership that lets members contact select attorneys to receive free legal advice from. Some sites also have public forums or features that allow a user to ask an attorney a question. These services are limited to more basic questions and services.
Many sites that cater to business owners offer very little legal advice. Instead, they simply help entrepreneurs file the necessary documents to incorporate their businesses or maintain legal compliance with the local, state and federal agencies.
Sites that only serve as directories are similar to an online phonebook. They provide consumers with local attorney’s contact information, but they do not screen the law firms or offer consumers any guidance about whether a particular lawyer/firm is suitable for their needs.
Clients who can use online legal services
Entrepreneurs and business owners should have a lawyer or legal consultant to help them make sure their business is complying with all local, state and federal laws. They will also want documents in place that protect them from personal liability.
Those without a significant other who is recognized by law and/or without children should make sure they have an advanced healthcare directive and a will in place so that their wishes are known if they are persistently unconscious or pass away.
Parents should make sure that they a will that protects their assets for their children. If their children are under 18 then they should also specify who they wish to care for their children in the event of their own death.
Individuals who have amassed a large number of possessions or investment accounts during the course of their lives should make sure they have a clear will so their possessions and money go to their desired beneficiary. They should also have an advanced healthcare directive so their caretakers know their wishes if they cannot care for themselves.
Individuals who rent an apartment or home may wish to have an attorney review their lease before signing it. They can consult the same attorney if any disputes arise with their landlords.
Anyone named as a plaintiff in a lawsuit should obtain legal counsel or consult with an attorney to make sure their interests are appropriately represented.
Anyone who has been charged with a crime should seek legal representation.
Expert reviews for legal service companies
LegalShield provides legal services to subscribers. The company operates similar to an insurance company; members pay a monthly fee and then have access to legal services from a select group of providers. The company was founded in 1972 and is headquartered in Ada, Okla.
Online platform Rocket Lawyer helps consumers create legal documents and/or find an attorney. Consumers can sign up for a monthly membership or purchase some services on an a la carte basis. The company was founded in 2008, is headquartered in California and has technical and financial backing from tech giants like Google.
LegalZoom was established in 2001 as way to use the Internet to give more people access to legal help. The company lets customers create legal documents or have short consultations with lawyers. They offer services for both individuals and businesses.
LegalMatch is a website that lets individuals submit the details of their case to all qualified LegalMatch attorneys. When an attorney indicates they’re interested in the case, LegalMatch sends the attorney’s information and other users’ reviews to the client. LegalMatch.com launched in 2000, and since then 3 million cases have been posted on the site. It helps individuals and business owners in all 50 states find legal representation.
- Time: Because LegalMatch sends attorneys’ information to potential clients, they can take as much time as they need to decide between their options. They will know the lawyer’s fees, and the clients will only be given information for attorneys who are willing to take their case.
- Legal forums: LegalMatch hosts legal forums where consumers can post their legal questions and concerns. Other users, including some attorneys, respond to offer advice and support.
- Consumer education: LegalMatch’s website has a blog and a law library section where readers can learn about legal topics and definitions as well as read news related to legal cases.
- Pre-screened lawyers: LegalMatch screens all the attorneys they match with potential clients. They confirm that all lawyers are licensed, in good standing with their state’s bar association and have professional references.
- Prompt responses: In addition to screening lawyers who wish to participate in their service, LegalMatch monitors providers’ activity level and response time. Only members who remain active and respond to potential clients quickly are allowed to remain as LegalMatch providers.
- Best for: LegalMatch caters to those who want to hire an attorney and need help selecting the best attorney for their needs.
Lawyers.com is the flagship website of Martindale-Hubbell, a legal information and marketing firm. Martindale-Hubbell was established in 1868 and published a legal desk reference. Today, the company connects attorneys with clients in 160 countries. Lawyers.com helps consumers find answers to basic legal questions, understand legal issues and find the best attorney for their situation.
- Ask a lawyer: Consumers with simple questions can use the website’s forum to get an answer from an attorney in their state. They can also browse other consumers’ questions and the answers they received.
- Ratings: All law firms listed on Lawyers.com’s directory have a peer-rating that indicates the degree to which an attorney or legal firm is respected by other legal professionals. Many lawyers/legal firms also have a client satisfaction rating, and potential clients can read other clients’ reviews.
- Consumer education: Those who want to learn more about a legal issue they’re facing can use the free resources on Lawyers.com. Their informational articles cover an extensive range of topics, and each article also shows law firms in the consumers’ area who handle the legal issue that the article discusses.
- Search features: Lawyers.com lets users search for an attorney by selecting their legal issue, and then the site helps consumers narrow the results to find the best attorney for their situation.
- Profiles: Potential clients can learn about a lawyer/law firm by clicking on the firm’s name in the Lawyers.com directory. The profile provides information about the firm, including whether they offer free consultations.
- Best for: Lawyers.com is best for individuals and business owners who are ready to select an attorney to handle their legal needs.
BizFilings helps small business owners form corporations, limited-liability corporations (LLCs), nonprofits, limited partnerships (LPs) and more. They also help small business owners file other paperwork to manage and grow their businesses. The company was established in 1996 and is headquartered in Madison, Wis.
- Clear pricing: When interested customers are ready to start their business, they can select the BizFiling package that is best for them. The website has side-by-side comparisons of different plans that clearly state the price and services included. All taxes and fees are included in these prices.
- Online chat: BizFiling’s website includes an instant chat feature for interested customers to get help without picking up the phone or waiting for an email response.
- Consumer education: Business owners and entrepreneurs who aren’t sure what kind of corporation or partnership they should form can read about all their options on BizFiling’s website. The company’s Incorporation Specialists can also help them select and understand their best option.
- Special offers: BizFiling regularly has special offers and discounts. All offers are listed on their website.
- Social media: BizFilings is active on social media, so business owners can follow them on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to see news stories that will be of special interest to them.
- Best for: BizFilings caters to entrepreneurs who want to start or manage a business.
incorporate.com has roots going back to the beginning of the 20th century when two attorneys decided to focus solely on helping business owners form corporations. They now help entrepreneurs form multiple kinds of business entities and keep their businesses legally compliant. The company’s services are available in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
- Corporate Veil Guarantee®: incorporate.com gives its customers a $50,000 Corporate Veil Guarantee®. If an owner is found personally liable, the company will reimburse up to $50,000 in legal defense fees.
- Compliance: Business owners can purchase a wide variety of services from incorporate.com to make sure their businesses meet all legal requirements. Those who use the company’s Registered Agent Service receive a free Compliance Watch package, which is an online package for keeping track of compliance dates and documents.
- Consumer education: The Learning Center section of incorporated,com’s website has a library of informational articles to help entrepreneurs and business owners learn about establishing their business, protect themselves legally, writing bylaws and more.
- Coaching: incorporate.com’s Business Coaching service assists business owners with remaining compliant by helping them properly document their business actions.
- Webinars: All consumers can visit the company’s website to watch their free webinars on growing a business. Webinar topics include using social media, choosing a domain name, financial planning and more.
- Best for: incorporate.com caters to business owners who want help with incorporating their business and remaining compliant after they do so.
MyCorporation provides online document filing services for entrepreneurs to form businesses and business owners to maintain them. The company was founded in 1997 and is headquartered in California.
- Free consultation: Interested consumers can receive a free telephone consultation from a MyCorporation representative. The representative can help entrepreneurs identify their goals and determine necessary steps to achieve those goals.
- Trandmark and copyright: MyCorporation had trademark and copyright services to help individuals file the necessary paperwork to protect their business name and intellectual property.
- Consumer education: MyCorporation has a section of their website devoted to helping business owners understand the paperwork and filing requirements associated with owning a business. The company also publishes a blog.
- Social media: Business owners and entrepreneurs can follow MyCorporation on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to learn more about the company and receive tips on maintaining their business.
- Business name search: Those starting a business can visit MyCorporation’s website to search for the business name that they are considering. Consumers can search for free and then pay to have MyCorporation reserve the name they want if it is available.
- Best for: MyCorporation is best for entrepreneurs who want to incorporate their business and/or file trademark or copyright documents.
Information in this guide is general in nature and is intended for informational purposes only; it is not legal, health, investment or tax advice. ConsumerAffairs.com makes no representation as to the accuracy of the information provided and assumes no liability for any damages or loss arising from its use.
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