You can think of them as an alternative to a traditional law firm. An online legal service site like ZenBusiness connects you to independent legal experts who offer bespoke legal services on an as-needed basis. If you don’t want to hire a personal attorney, a legal services site will find you a qualified expert to help you apply for licenses, create contracts, or submit documents without the commitment or fees associated with a traditional law firm. Legal services typically cater to small business owners, though some offer services for personal legal matters as well.
The process is simple, which of course is the point. After submitting a form explaining the service you need, you’ll be assigned a professional who will discuss the particulars involved in that specific task. A lawyer can research, complete, and submit documents for you, or simply provide you with template forms and guidance to do it yourself. The process varies depending on the task needed, but the goal is to reduce the legwork on your end, whether by transferring it to an expert or providing as-you-go guidance to expedite the process.
The majority of legal service sites are directed at the needs of small or emerging businesses. Services range from filing LLCs to drawing up contracts, researching bylaws, registering trademarks, and applying for permits.
That said, there are online legal services that help with personal matters as well and pair you with legal experts who specialize in mortgage agreements, matters of immigration, power of attorney, and living wills.
The first step is to decide how much involvement you’d like to take on. Some sites offer legal forms and templates for you to fill out yourself, along with step-by-step instructions, guidance, and real-time edits to help you along. Other services offer to take care of the documentation themselves. For more extensive projects and those that require field research, such as patent and copyright filing, it’s best to find providers that understand the field and specialize in the intricacies of the matter at hand. If you’re launching a new business, you’ll want to find an expert who understands taxation, licensing, and state and local laws.
Most importantly, though, you need to find a trustworthy company. Regardless of what you’re using the service for, chances are you’ll be sharing sensitive information and dealing with important matters. It’s important to pay attention to the company’s reviews and reputation. Make sure the website is professionally designed and includes working contact information. See how active they are on Facebook. These are all important factors in choosing the right legal services provider.
First and foremost, legal services will help you—the business owner—which will in turn help your business develop or begin on the right foot. By taking on difficult legal procedures, such as forming an LLC, parsing out licenses and permits, and researching bylaws, a legal service site can eliminate hiccups that could easily stall the process, distract you from your business plan, and lead to fines and other red-tape violations. They can save you the expenses of a personal attorney while at the same time leaving you free to shift your attention to the specifics of your vision and the implementation of your business plan.