9 Best Online Legal Services for Small Businesses in 2020

Online legal services offer access to forms, resources, and local attorneys. Use this guide to compare the best online legal services for small businesses.

Whether you’re just starting your business or you’ve been operating for a few years, having access to the right legal services can be extremely important. You can use online legal services to help you choose and set up a business entity, register a trademark, review a contract, and more.

In fact, many online legal services for small businesses can even give you access to local attorneys for customized legal advice when you need it.

Best Online Legal Services

  1. LegalZoom: Best all-in-one online legal service
  2. Rocket Lawyer: Best for legal documents and forms
  3. Incfile: Best for business formation
  4. LegalMatch: Best for finding a local attorney
  5. UpCounsel: Best on-demand marketplace for complex legal needs
  6. Clerky: Best for startups
  7. Avvo: Best free online legal service
  8. Nolo: Best for self-help legal resources
  9. LegalShield: Best for help with debt collection

Below, we’ll review each of these online legal services providers, comparing them in terms of their offerings, pricing, and more.

1. LegalZoom

Best all-in-one online legal service.

LegalZoom Services

LegalZoom is perhaps one of the most well-known online legal services, with products available for business owners, consumers, and creative professionals alike. They provide a range of services, including:

  • Business formation (LLC, S-corp, C-corp, etc.)
  • Corporate changes and filings
  • Business compliance
  • Business names (DBA, entity name reservation, entity name availability check)
  • Trademark, patent, and copyright services
  • Taxes, business licenses, and permits
  • Legal forms and agreements

With LegalZoom, you can also speak with an attorney to gain access to legal advice, discuss contracts and agreements, as well as receive prepared services. Although you can purchase any of these services for a flat fee, you can also subscribe to the LegalZoom Business Advisory Plan—which gives you regular access to an attorney—among a number of other benefits.

LegalZoom Pricing

Service LegalZoom Cost
Business Formation
  • LLC: $79+ and government filing fees
  • S-Corp or C-Corp: $149+ and government filing fees
  • Nonprofit: $99+ and government filing fees
  • LP or LLP: $149+ and government filing fees
Legal Forms
  • Single form: $14.95
  • Unlimited access to form library: $7.99 per month or included with Business Advisory Plan
Business Advisory Plan (for regular access to an attorney)
  • $31.25 per month for one-year plan
  • $36 per month for six-month plan

LegalZoom Pros

  • Best choice for all-inclusive online legal services
  • Business Advisory Plan includes ongoing access to an attorney
  • Affordable price for Business Advisory plan—includes document review, legal forms, copyright registration, and more—in addition to attorney access
  • 60-day money-back guarantee
  • Option to purchase services a la carte if you’d prefer

LegalZoom Cons

  • More expensive for business formation compared to competitors
  • Not the best option for one-time legal assistance
  • Attorney consultations are limited to 30 minutes on new legal matters
  • Legal document review is limited to 10 pages (longer documents require an extra charge)
  • Annual business evaluation only included in 12-month plan

When to Choose LegalZoom

If your business doesn’t have in-house legal counsel or a specific business attorney, but you think you might need consistent access to legal services, LegalZoom’s Business Advisory Plan is definitely a worthwhile solution for you.

Although you may find use from their wide range of other services, the Business Advisory Plan is certainly where LegalZoom presents the greatest value for small business owners. With this plan you receive:

  • Unlimited 30-minute phone consultations with an attorney
  • Unlimited access to legal forms
  • Unlimited document review by an attorney
  • Annual business evaluation (12-month plan only)
  • Access to tax professionals
  • One copyright registration per month
  • Access to exclusive discounts on other LegalZoom offerings

As you can see, this LegalZoom plan is an ideal option for small businesses looking for all-in-one online legal services.

2. RocketLawyer

Best online legal service for documents and forms.

Rocket Lawyer Services

Similar to LegalZoom, Rocket Lawyer is another big name in the online legal services space. Here are some of the services Rocket Lawyer has to offer:

  • Access to legal documents, including agreements, contracts, standard forms, and more
  • Attorney services for help with starting a business, contracts and business transactions, intellectual property, document review, general legal advice, etc.
  • Business formation—form an LLC, incorporate a business, or start a nonprofit
  • Registered agent service
  • Additional business operations and business property services

Again, like LegalZoom, you have the option to use many of Rocket Lawyer’s services for a flat fee, or you can opt for their membership plan. Their membership plan gives you access to legal advice from an attorney, an unlimited number of legal documents, and even includes your first business incorporation for free (minus state filing fees).

Rocket Lawyer Pricing

Service Rocket Lawyer Cost
Business Formation
LLC: Starts at $99.99 plus government filing fees
Legal Forms
Single form: $39.99 per document or unlimited form access included with Rocket Lawyer membership
Membership plan (for regular access to an attorney)
$39.99 per month (Seven-day free trial; cancel anytime)

Rocket Lawyer Pros

  • Wide variety of forms and documents available in their library
  • Includes an intuitive form builder that offers tips regarding state laws, additional legal tips, eSignatures, and more
  • Free seven-day trial of membership plan
  • Free incorporation filing, access to an attorney, and document defense (helps you enforce legal contracts) included with membership plan
  • Legal advice on demand available on their website
  • Option to speak to an attorney for advice without purchasing a membership plan

Rocket Lawyer Cons

  • Membership plan is more expensive than LegalZoom’s (as well as other competitors)
  • Without a membership plan, access to legal forms is expensive (more expensive than with LegalZoom)

When to Choose Rocket Lawyer

Although Rocket Lawyer offers a wide variety of services, there’s no doubt they excel when it comes to legal documents and forms. With their membership plan, you’ll have access to unlimited legal forms and documents, as well as their intuitive form builder that gives you the ability to customize your form to your unique business needs.

You can make as many forms and documents as you like, sign them and store them within your Rocket Lawyer account online. In addition, Rocket Lawyer offers tips and information on how to make documents legally binding in your state, includes a legal checklist, and can provide instructions for signing, finding witnesses, filing, notarization, and more.

That said, if you opt for the membership plan, not only will you have access to all of these benefits, but you’ll also have ongoing access to an attorney—which can be helpful for any small business owner.

3. Incfile

Best online legal service for business formation.

Incfile Services

Whereas Rocket Lawyer and LegalZoom are pretty broad in their focus, Incfile is much more narrow—as their name implies—they’re focused on business filings. If you’re looking for the best online legal services to officially register and form your business, there’s no doubt that Incfile will be one of your top choices.

With Incfile, you can quickly and easily form your LLC, S-corp, C-corp, or nonprofit business. All of Incfile’s incorporation packages include:

  • Verify company name availability
  • Preparation and filing of articles of organization/incorporation
  • Next business day processing
  • Registered agent services (first year for free)
  • Lifetime company alerts
  • Online order status tracking
  • Free business tax consultation
  • Unlimited customer support
  • Online access to incorporation documents

And—it’s going to be hard to beat Incfile’s prices. They don’t charge anything for their basic incorporation package—only state filing fees.

Incfile Pricing

As we mentioned, pricing for Incfile starts at $0, plus the cost of state filing fees.

That said, however, Incfile offers two premium packages for business owners who want to purchase additional services with their business formation:

  • Gold Package: $149 + state filing fees
  • Platinum Package: $299 + state filing fees

These packages include perks such as EIN registration, express shipping, business contract templates, website domain name, and more.

Incfile Pros

  • One of the most affordable online legal services for business formation
  • Includes one year of registered agent service for free
  • Option for paid packages to access add-on services with business formation
  • Can expedite filing for an additional $50
  • Various online resources available on the Incfile website

Incfile Cons

  • No option to access an attorney for legal advice
  • No ability to create or download legal forms and documents (other than those related to formation)
  • Limited naming-, intellectual property-, and other similar services

When to Choose Incfile

If you’re just looking to get your business up and running as quickly and easily as possible, Incfile is a great place to turn for online legal services—especially if you want to register your business in the most cost-effective way.

4. LegalMatch

Best online legal service for finding a local lawyer for your business.

LegalMatch Services

Like Incfile, LegalMatch is an online legal service that meets a more specific need compared to competitors like Rocket Lawyer and LegalZoom. With LegalMatch, you simply submit a questionnaire detailing your legal issue and LegalMatch helps connect you with a local attorney to represent you.

Although both business owners and individuals can use LegalMatch, business lawyers are available through this service in the following practice areas (among others):

  • Breach of contract
  • Business disputes
  • Buying and selling a business
  • Contract drafting and review
  • Corporations, LLCs, partnerships, etc. (i.e. business formation and dissolution)
  • Entertainment law
  • Insurance
  • Taxes

When you fill out the questionnaire about your legal issue, you’ll be able to choose the level of legal experience you’d like your attorney to have. Then, when LegalMatch distributes your request to their network, you’ll receive proposals from local lawyers with information about their fees, experience, and details about resolving your case.

LegalMatch Pricing

LegalMatch doesn’t charge businesses to use their platform—instead, they make money from the attorneys who use the platform to connect with clients.

Of course, once you connect with an attorney, you’ll have to pay their associated fees to work with them to resolve your legal issue. These fees, as you might expect, can vary widely based on location, the attorney’s experience, the issue you’re working on, among other factors.

LegalMatch Pros

  • Free and simple way to find a local business attorney
  • Don’t have to worry about vetting a business attorney on your own
  • Access to LegalMatch online law library resources
  • Can view lawyer ratings and customer experiences before making a decision
  • 100% confidential

LegalMatch Cons

  • No access to additional services—business formation, legal forms, copyright registration, etc.
  • Business attorney fees are typically expensive

When to Choose LegalMatch

As you can see, LegalMatch is a great service for connecting you with business attorneys in your area. That said, however, this type of online legal service is best-suited for those who are looking to resolve a specific legal issue with a dedicated attorney.

Although LegalMatch doesn’t charge you to use their service, the attorney that you work with is going to charge you their standard fees—which aren’t usually the most affordable. Therefore, you’re going to want to reserve this type of legal service for more complicated legal issues that need significant, hands-on attention.

On the other hand, if you have a simpler issue—like you need a contract drafted, or are trying to choose an entity type—it will probably be more affordable and faster to go with another option.

5. UpCounsel

Best on-demand marketplace for complex legal needs.

UpCounsel Services

Like LegalMatch, UpCounsel gives you the ability to connect with business attorneys—unlike LegalMatch, however, UpCounsel is an online-based, on-demand legal marketplace. With UpCounsel, you have access to a network of over 5,000 top business attorneys across the U.S. and can take advantage of their online system to quickly and easily post a job, get proposals, and find the right attorney for your needs.

In addition, UpCounsel offers a variety of free online collaboration tools, including:

  • Workflow and document management
  • Attorney-made legal documents
  • E-signatures
  • Document storage
  • 24/7 support

Again, similar to LegalMatch, UpCounsel is free to use—rates will vary based on attorney—unlike LegalMatch, though, UpCounsel also provides a variety of free legal forms and online resources.

UpCounsel Pricing

UpCounsel does not charge you to use or post a request on their network, but you will have to pay the associated fees for working with an attorney in their network. As you might expect, attorney’s fees vary widely—depending on their experience, the service, location, etc.

That said, it’s also worth noting that UpCounsel charges a 5% maintenance fee on top of the lawyer’s rate to help them continue to run their platform.

To get a sense of pricing, the UpCounsel website lists a few sample hourly rates:

  • Commerical contracts: $125 to $250 per hour
  • Employment and HR: $175 to $275 per hour
  • General counsel: $250 to $350 per hour

UpCounsel Pros

  • Access to online marketplace of highly experienced business lawyers
  • Online-based management platform
  • Free legal documents and forms available
  • Additional online articles and resources available as well

UpCounsel Cons

  • Expensive (sample rates suggest forming an LLC or corporation can cost $500 to $1,000)
  • UpCounsel charges 5% maintenance fee on top of lawyer’s rate (something LegalMatch doesn’t do)
  • Not suitable for newer and smaller businesses

When to Choose UpCounsel

If you like the idea of LegalMatch, but would prefer something with some tech benefits, UpCounsel is going to be one of the best online legal services for you. As we mentioned, UpCounsel is similar to LegalMatch, but takes an online marketplace approach to finding the right attorney for your small business legal needs.

In addition, on top of helping connect you with an attorney, UpCounsel offers advantages like an online-based platform and access to legal documents and forms. That said, like LegalMatch, UpCounsel is going to be best suited for those looking for a dedicated attorney to work with them on a specific, complex legal issue—as opposed to more simple legal advice.

Again, if you need a recommendation on your business formation or a contract drafted, you’ll likely be able to find a more affordable and faster alternative.

6. Clerky

Best for startups.

Clerky Services

Clerky is an online legal service designed exclusively for startups. With Clerky, new businesses receive the assistance they need to complete legal paperwork, as well as complete other key pieces of the startup process, such as fundraising, hiring, and more.

Clerky gives startups the option to choose from a company lifetime or pay-per-use package. With the company lifetime package, initial services include:

  • Expedited filing fees for incorporation
  • First-year registered agent fee
  • Annual report and franchise tax reminders
  • Post-incorporation setup
  • Stock plan adoption

Clerky Pricing

Clerky’s pricing is based on the package you choose. The company lifetime package costs $799 and includes formation products, as well as unlimited use of their standard fundraising, hiring, and commercial products.

The pay-per-use package varies based on the services you need. For incorporation, you’ll pay a total of $407. Post-incorporation setup costs $299 and stock plan adoption costs $199. Fees for fundraising, hiring, and other services vary.

Clerky Pros

  • Designed exclusively for high-growth startups and run by attorneys with experience in the industry
  • All-inclusive package offers several services
  • Company lifetime package is pretty affordable considering everything that is included

Clerky Cons

  • Only gives you the option to form as a C-corp (as this is often considered the ideal entity for high-growth startups)
  • Clerky incorporates businesses in Delaware; otherwise, incorporating in your home state requires additional fees
  • No access to legal forms, local attorneys, or other additional legal resources

When to Choose Clerky

Consider using Clerky if you’re a high-growth-potential startup looking for assistance with incorporating and other initial formation processes. Clerky is designed to automate the legal processes for startups, allowing them to spend time on other parts of their business.

Additionally, Clerky has great supplemental services, including fundraising, hiring, and general maintenance.

7. Avvo

Best free online legal service.

Avvo Services

There aren’t many truly free online legal services out there, but Avvo is one of them. With Avvo, you have access to two main services.

First, Avvo serves as a directory for attorneys—you can browse lawyers in your area, searching by state, as well as searching by practice area. Every attorney’s profile includes their contact information, reviews, practice areas, costs (if they’ve included them), and resume details.

Next, Avvo also serves as one of the biggest resources for free legal advice on the internet. You can browse Avvo’s library for a wide variety of legal topics, as well as post your legal question for free and have an attorney (or multiple) respond.

Avvo Pricing

As we’ve mentioned, it’s free to post a legal question, browse resources, and use the Avvo legal directory.

Avvo Pros

  • Ability to post legal questions and have them answered by attorneys, for free
  • Access to a huge online network of local attorneys—with contact information and reviews
  • Searchable forum of previously answered questions
  • Additional legal resources available (articles from lawyers, handful of legal forms, etc.)

Avvo Cons

  • Does not offer ongoing legal services such as business formation, assistance with intellectual property matters, document review, etc.
  • Not a viable option for consistent, personalized assistance from an attorney
  • Attorneys typically offer generalized advice when answering questions, then recommend working with them for additional help

When to Choose Avvo

If you’re browsing for the answer to a legal question, or want to see if you can get a simple legal question answered for free, Avvo can probably help you out. In addition, Avvo is great for startups or businesses on a budget—who want to see if they can tackle smaller questions on their own before having to pay for legal services.

That said, Avvo is also a great option for receiving general information and finding a local lawyer for more customized assistance later down the road if you need it.

8. Nolo

Best for self-help legal resources.

Nolo Services

Legal website Nolo has a vast repository of articles about everyday legal topics written by attorneys. These can be accessed for free and serve as an excellent resource if you need to know general information. Articles cover a wide range of legal topics related to starting and operating a business.

Nolo Pricing

You can access Nolo’s information articles and guides, as well as their lawyer network, for free. Prices range from $25 to $40 for other services.

Nolo Pros

  • Vast library of informational legal articles written by attorneys
  • Free access to self-help content
  • Offers additional services such as business forms, books, and software

Nolo Cons

  • Business formation services are outsourced to other provides
  • Website can be difficult to navigate

When to Choose Nolo

Although Nolo offers additional services, such as legal documents and contracts, local lawyer search, and LLC creation, you’ll find that they’re best used as a general legal resource. If you’re looking for information on a legal topic, you’ll more than likely be able to find it on Nolo—at little to no cost.

9. LegalShield

Best for help with debt collection.

LegalShield Services

LegalShield lets you be proactive about legal help. For a monthly subscription fee, you get regular access to a lawyer and document review. One unique feature of LegalShield is they assist businesses with debt collection: If customers aren’t paying you, LegalShield can help you recover what you’re owed.

LegalShield Pricing

LegalShield has three subscription plans based on the size of your business:

  • 10 or fewer employees: $39 per month
  • 11 to 50 employees: $89 per month
  • 51 to 100 employees: $149 per month

LegalShield Pros

  • Affordable monthly fee for access to business attorney (always within the same law firm)
  • Debt collection assistance included
  • Option to add home business supplement for freelancers, consultants, and contractors
  • Includes trial defense services

LegalShield Cons

  • No free trial or money-back guarantee
  • Each plan includes certain limits (e.g. three phone consultations per year on special legal issues)
  • Not all law firms provide the benefits “included” with each plan

When to Choose LegalShield

If you’re looking for an affordable way to regularly access a lawyer, LegalShield is a great option. For a reasonable monthly fee, you’ll be connected with a lawyer at a specific law firm and be able to work with them to receive assistance on the issues that relate to your business, including debt collection, contracts, legal documents, and more.

The Bottom Line

When it comes down to it, online legal services are wide-ranging in both their offerings and price points. As you can see, you might use one service for business formation and another for legal advice—or, you might opt for a single service for all of your business’s legal needs.

At the end of the day, the choice is up to you.

That said, hopefully, by walking through this guide, you have a better understanding of some of the top options on the market, and therefore, will have an easier time deciding which online legal services will be best for your small business.

Additional Legal Resources

Senior Staff Writer at JustBusiness

Randa Kriss

Randa Kriss is the senior staff writer at JustBusiness and Fundera.

Randa specializes in reviewing small business products, software, and services. She has written hundreds of reviews across a wide swath of business topics including ecommerce, merchant services, accounting, credit cards, bank accounts, lenders, and payroll and human resources solutions. She has also written for PeopleKeep, Bench, RocketLawyer, Zoho, and KNF&T Staffing, among others.

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