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LegalZoom vs. Legal Shield vs. BizFilings: Comparing DIY Legal Sites

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Depending on your personal or small business needs, you could potentially benefit from each of these three legal “do it yourself” resources. The real questions to ask yourself are: What specific area do I need help with? What is the exa

BizFilings

Screenshot of BizFilings process

If you just need help in the formation of a business structure and the filing of the papers for it according to deadlines, BizFilings is for you. It is a service that helps you choose a business structure, draft the right papers for it, and get them filed correctly and on time. If you don't know what help you'll need, or you need help in more than this one area, keep going.

 

Screenshot BizFilings 3 options

BizFilings Quick Facts

  • BizFilings gets used frequently by new businesses, startups, and solo entrepreneurs. They all seem to say that the service allows them to be free from worry about whether their businesses are properly structured. It's your business structure that affords you protection from personal liability, for example, so this is an important feature.

  • BizFilings customers also say that they prefer to focus on actually running their businesses and not get bogged down in legal or business technicalities. They like that BizFilings incorporates them right and keeps filing their paperwork in the right place at the right time so they can go on to do what they really like.

 

Screenshot LegalZoom business services

LegalZoom

If you need documents for one or several distinct and unrelated projects, for example, incorporation papers, a trademark filing and a health care proxy, LegalZoom is the right choice. LegalZoom is a document preparation service that covers a variety of basic areas of law. It lets you choose the types of documents you need, get them drafted correctly with their oversight, and then file them correctly (or have them file the documents, depending on what they are). It is not a source of advice or representation, however. If you might need representation or to consult with someone, keep going.

 

Screenshot LegalZoom personal services

LegalZoom Quick Facts

  • Small businesses and entrepreneurs use LegalZoom, but so do individual customers for things like wills, living wills, health care proxies and other similar end of life and emergency planning services.

  • With LegalZoom you can file things correctly and be confident about their documents, and you have a range of choices of the kinds of documents you can get drafted and filed.

  • LegalZoom can provide you with intellectual property assistance such as a trademark filing or noncompete clause which is less common from a DIY legal service.

 

LegalShield screenshot how it works

LegalShield

If you need to be able to pick up the phone and call someone to discuss legal questions, LegalShield is probably the way to go. This is like basic legal representation styled after insurance, where you pay an ongoing fee to be able to call upon a lawyer for a range of basic problems; like insurance, some things are covered and some aren't. If all you need is basic paperwork filed, LegalShield might be too much for you. However, if you like the feeling that no matter what comes you can call up a local law firm (within the restrictions of the service you pay for, of course), LegalShield might be just right for you.

LegalShield screenshot business services 

LegalShield Quick Facts

  • This is akin to legal insurance and comes with a feeling of security or peace of mind; if you subscribe you don't have to worry that sooner or later you'll need a lawyer for something and be unable to find one or afford one.

  • LegalShield deals with foreclosure and creditors unlike other services.

  • LegalShield also offers Identity Theft Shield

Pros and Cons

BizFilings Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Thorough guides on the BizFilings website help you tutor yourself about what structure you need and these are free; state guides are also provided on the BizFilings site

  • BizFilings provides a chart that helps you compare their packages feature by feature and an “incorporation wizard” that lets you assess what you need in terms of business structures

  • Online “chat” feature you can use to get help on which package to buy

  • BizFilings focuses on incorporation and doesn't spread its expertise thin over many subject areas

Cons:

  • The pricing structure is a little complicated; even after doing research it might not be very clear to you which package you would need

  • There is substantial upselling here that may benefit you but also can be tough to wade through

  • Compared to other services its focus is more narrow, so if you end up having problems or needs outside their area of focus they can't help you

LegalZoom Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • LegalZoom completes your forms and checks them so you don't have to

  • The service comes with lots of free features including domain names, various business consultations and a 14 day trial of business advice offered by Business Pro Coach Network™

  • Great Business Legal Plan for $23.00/month gets you document review and consultations with an attorney

  • Really broad selection of services in many areas of law

Cons:

  • Even if you want to complete your own forms you still need to buy a plan

  • If you buy services one by one or “a la carte” instead of through a plan it can be expensive

LegalShield Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • LegalShield offers basic consultation with an attorney on anything within the range of coverage which has few restrictions

  • Letters, phone calls and court appearances on your behalf up to a limit

  • Discount on legal services above what the limit is

  • Others in your family or business can also be covered by your plan

  • 24 hour assistance for legal emergencies such as arrests

 Cons:

  • Very limited document preparation and filing services; basically just wills or paperwork that accompanies in court work they do for you

  • Attorney actions on your behalf like letters and phone calls are at the discretion of the lawyer who is consulting with you so you might not get the representation you think you need.

The Bottom Line

  • The LegalShield and LegalZoom monthly plans are almost equal in cost but provide different services.

  • BizFilings is more expensive and has a more narrow focus than either LegalShield or LegalZoom.

  • If you need documents and filing, the monthly plan with LegalZoom stands out as the best service.

  • If you need ongoing consultation with an attorney or to be represented in court, LegalShield is the best plan.

4 comments

foo blah
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Posted on Mar 15, 2015
hellen geek
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Posted on Oct 1, 2013
Tom Smith
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Posted on Sep 26, 2013

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Karla Lant

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