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is an onlinelegal technologycompany that helps its customers create an array of legal documents without having to necessarily hire alawyer. Available documents includewillsand livingtrusts,5business formation documents,6copyright registrationsandtrademarkapplications. The company also offers attorney referrals andregistered agentservices.7

LegalZoom is often described as adisruptive innovatorin the market for legal services.8By using computer technology to render services at lower prices, the company also helps expand the ability of consumers and small business owners to access legal services.

LegalZoom was founded by Brian P. Y. Liu,Brian S. Lee, Edward R. Hartman, andRobert Shapiro.9Since Lee, Hartman, and Liu were not well known, they discussed a number of prominent individuals who could lend credibility to their proposed enterprise; they finally decided on the noted Los Angeles litigator Robert Shapiro. Lee managed to contact Shapiro, and after some discussion Shapiro decided their idea had merit and agreed to help the company get off the ground.10

The company began offering legal service products to the public on March 12, 2001.11

LegalZoom has been recognized a number of times over the years for its entrepreneurial acumen. In 2011,Business Insiderranked LegalZoom 27th on its list of the worlds most valuable startups,12and in 2012,Fast Companyranked LegalZoom 26th on its list of the most innovative companies.13

In September 2012 it was announced that LegalZoom had formed a partnership with the United Kingdom-based legal services providerQualitySolicitors, as part of which the companies will jointly offer online legal services in the United Kingdom including company formations and divorce documents.14

The September 2012 issue ofConsumer Reportsmagazine gave mixed reviews to the computer-aided legal forms generated by LegalZoom and two of its competitors,Nolo (formerly Nolo Press)andRocket Lawyer. The evaluation found that all three companies provided documents for a fraction of what youd pay a lawyer. TheCRreview 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 werent specific enough or contained language that could potentially lead to an unintended result.15

In 2013 LegalZoom purchased a 206,000-square-foot building at 9900 Spectrum Drive in the Davis Springs Spectrum Business Park in Austin, Texas for a reported $21 million.16The Austin office acts as one of the companys headquarters.

On January 6, 2014 European private capital firmPermiraannounced its intent to acquire $200 million in the outstanding equity of LegalZoom and become its largest shareholder pending regulatory approval.17On 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 are 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

LegalZoom provides legal services in various common categories including copyrights, DBAs, business formation, trusts, wills, patents, power of attorney, pre-nuptial agreements, real estate leases.20The company also offers legal plans through its network of independent attorneys.21

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.22

Middle-class families and small business owners are the primary target markets for LegalZooms services.23The companys efforts to render affordable, quality legal services to these two groups reflects a broader global trend in which legal service providers are attempting to harness computer technology to supply ever-more-proficient services at lower costs.24

Since LegalZoom often uses computer technology to render legal services at lower prices than traditional lawyers, it is frequently cited as an example ofdisruptive innovationin the legal marketplace.25This disruption benefits people who otherwise could not hire a lawyer by expanding their access to legal services.

In 2015 LegalZoom and theNorth Carolina State Bar Associationsettled years of litigation by agreeing that companies like LegalZoom which offer automated legal document preparation will not violate North Carolinas prohibitions against theunauthorized practice of lawif the companies register with the state and comply with certain consumer protection procedures.26Following 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.27In 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 . . . .28

Company Overview / People / Board for, Inc.

Company Overview / People for, Inc.

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Incorporation: The Web Can Help. PC Magazine

Registered agent market share. Northwest Registered Agent, LLC

Sonderegger, Dean (June 27, 2017).Want To Know The Future Of Legal Tech? Ask Your Accountant: Accounting offers law firms a longer-term view that what seems to be a threat can actually be a significant opportunity.

First online dating, then online wedding planning, now this(22 January 2004).

Chang, Andrea.Entrepreneur Brian Lee is business partner to the stars.

Archived copy. Archived fromthe originalon 2012-02-21

The 100 Most Valuable Startups In The World, Revamped And Revised!

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LegalZoom to tie up with QualitySolicitors for British launch. The Lawyer. 20 September 2012

Legal DIY websites are no match for a pro: They provide services for a fraction of what youd pay a lawyer.

Buchholz, Jan (March 8, 2013).LegalZoom pays $21M for building: Room for 600, and then some.

Permira to take controlling stake in

Hyde, John (December 7, 2015).LegalZoom to make first UK acquisition.

Legalzoom Reviews by Experts & Customers Updated 2016.

Li, Victor (March 17, 2017).Avvo, LegalZoom and Rocket Lawyer CEOs say their products help bridge access-to-justice gap.

Croft, Jane (December 5, 2016).The relentless advance of the super-intelligent attorney: The legal sector is being disrupted as clients seek lower bills and greater insight from advisers.

Legal Innovation Is Not An Oxymoron — Its Farther Along Than You Think.

Rogers, Joan (July 26, 2016).N.C. Law Regulates LegalZoom, Other Legal Doc Providers. Bloomberg BNA

Kroh, Eric (June 13, 2016).DOJ, FTC Say Legal Documents Software Helps Consumers.

Joint advisory letter from the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice, re North Carolina HB 436

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Louis M. Brown Award Recipients, Meritorious Recognition Recipients and Nominees

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Bellow-Sacks Access to Civil Legal Services

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