I'm planning on doing a Copyright and a TradeMark with my company. I was wondering if anyone has used LegalZoom? If so, your thoughts? Was it worth it?
LegalZoom is an excellent service as long as you are clear about what, exactly, you will be getting from them. If you have a fairly straight forward need like a will, trust, incorporation that doesn't have any special legal considerations and you are 100% on what you are doing then Legalzoom can be a low-cost approach. You get some minor assistance from paralegals to ensure that your filing is well-formed, but you don't actually get 'legal advice' from the site.
If you are unsure about the above, or want to be able to ask specific questions, etc. then LegalZoom isn't a great option. I have used it a few times for simple things and been very pleased, but only for simple things.
I do not like legal zoom. I believe that an attorney who speaks with you directly and works closely with you will cost you no more than legal zoom.
Further, legal zoom is under investigation in multiple states for practicing law without a license. There are many horror stories about how one size does not fit all.
Do yourself a favor and work with a lawyer that understands your needs and discusses your issues with you. They will also assure you understand what was done for you and how their work is to be used.
Most attorney's don't like legalzoom
For a simple will or health directive or something equally generic, I am skeptical that a an attorney who speaks with you directly could match the prices, or even come close. For a more savvy user, their real estate documents are very handy and appear to be highly enforceable.
So, it's a mixed bag but it certainly has good value in some situations. I know of a couple who did a pre-nup on legalzoom because one of them was about to come into some pretty serious money. They were broke at the time and would have never paid for an in-person attorney to handle their prenup - the prenum that legalzoom would have probably been billed at 8-10 hours by an attorney. They got it done for under $600 from legalzoom and wow did it save them some headaches 2 years later - the divorce lawyers didn't question it's enforceability.
Their copyright service is convenience for $125 and also appears to be well performed.
For creating LLCs and Corps, LegalZoom could be a decent choice for people who understand operating agreements, etc. but in these cases it's best to consult with an attorney or at least a CPA.
Legalzoom is good in some circumstances!
At the risk of raising the ire of the legal community I will weigh in here.
If you study the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office) website, you will find that filing yourself is not all that difficult and I can assure you that it is not as I hold several trademarks in a few different areas and I filed them myself, using the easy to understand USPTO online forms.
It just ain't that difficult.
I don't care for LegalZoom, not because they are under any kind of investigation but rather because of the way they handle their pricing, which is to start low and through the use of various add-ons raise the cost incrementally to a point at which the "original" price is lost in the legal fog.
Hiring an attorney does not guarantee good outcomes as my own experience has shown me.
I file my own corporations; it's a simple online form which allows the corporation to engage in any business which is lawful in my state. Takes me about 30 minutes to do the filing and that's including a couple of cigarette breaks and coffee.
Filing for a trademark is a bit more complicated but nothing you can't do for yourself if you spend a little time educating yourself about the process and the USPTO gives you all the regs and the forms for.....
The law was made for the "PEOPLE" and sure looks to me as though you are one of the "PEOPLE"!
Now I know that my attitude regarding the filing of legal documents is going to annoy the daylights out of some people but that's OK with me. I have successfully filed Small Claims, Limited Actions, a couple of lawsuits in District Court, all of which I won, and no attorney on my side in sight.
I have successfully defended myself in several lawsuits and....won, giving lie to that old adage about having a fool for a client. (Getting my money!) I have also used attorneys to represent me in a couple filed against me but that's OK.( In these cases, keeping my money!) If you never get sued, you aren't doing anything in this litigious world! Heck, I been in court before, I'm sure if I live long enough, I'll be in court again and I ain't scared.
I love it when some guy says to me, "I'm going to sue you!"
I tell him "OK, go right ahead!" and that since he has announced his intention to sue me, we ain't talkin' no more.
Drives'em nuts and they come around and the matter gets resolved.
About twenty years back when I was a complete Noob to real estate I got involved in a transaction which cost me well over $350K and I went down The Tubes, so I filed my own Chapter 7, again without an attorney in sight. The Trustee was a bit curious and did tell me that he hoped there weren't too may people out there like me as if there were, they could put a big dent in the incomes of bankruptcy attorneys who do, guess what?
They file forms and make a couple of brief apperances. You do all the work because the forms they file are based on information which you provide. You do most of the work any, so why not do it all?
I ascribe to Robert J. Ringer's theory on attorneys, which is that you use them to get your money, to defend you in a criminal matter and to get you out of deals that you are too embarrassed to get out of on your own. Other than those things, there isn't a whole lot that an attorney can do for you that you cannot do for yourself.
Now do I use attorneys? Darn right I do! I engage in a few real estate transactions each year; I flip some properties and I always take my atorney with me to the closing (Again a lesson learned from Ringer!). Now he doesn't do much but sort of sit there looking ominous and letting everyone know that he is there to represent my interest (To get my money!) and when I get my money, I pay him his fee and we go to the bar!
Thanks for the input guys. I've decided with the price and features, and going to a million forums, I'll go with LegalZoom for the LLC and Trademark. Should be simple enough. If all else fails, I could go the attorney route as a fall-back plan. Once again, thanks.
I don't understand why anyone would go to a company like LegalZoom for forming an LLC. If you don't need any legal advice, go directly to the state and file online. Links to all states can be found at [LLCCenter.com. In many cases, all you need is the name and address of the LLC and the name and address of the [URL="http://www.limitedliabilitycompanycenter.com/llc-registered-agent.html"]LLC's registered agent](http://www.limitedliabilitycompanycenter.com/states.html). Most states have preprinted forms or even direct online filing. When you use a service company, you are paying a lot of money to fill in a few blanks. Consider doing it yourself.
Ditto for filing for the FEIN.
On the other hand, if you need legal advice, you get none from a service company. For example, in Illinois you have to indicate in the articles of organization whether the LLC is member-managed or manager-managed. There are pros and cons to choosing one over the other, even in a single member LLC. If you have more than one member, a good operating agreement is critical. All the service companies can do is give you a blank form.
With respect to trademarks, filling in the form online at uspto.gov is also easy. Determining what classes you should file in, and what description you should use for your goods and services can mean the difference between an effective registration and one that fails to meet your real needs. If your trademark use is crystal clear, then perhaps letting someone simply fill in the blanks for you does you no harm. If your trademark is ever the subject of litigation, whether it is you trying to enforce it or someone else suing you because your use infringes someone else's mark, you can bet that the attorneys are going to be looking at your application, including such things as the date of first use and the description, with a very critical eye.
Like anything else in life, you get what you pay for. Not every one needs an attorney for simple matters, but it is important to understand what you are getting. In the case of companies that simply fill in blanks with the information you provide, I wonder what it is that people think they are getting, since they could just as easily fill in the blanks themselves.
I agree with Incorporatorpro, I've done numerous filings for LLC's all on my own and they were pretty painless, same goes for the Tax-Id Filing. Pay yourself by learning how to do it and saving the money you would needlessly be giving away.
Some of that decision depends on how you value your time. If spending on hour learning how to file an LLC is worth less than the productivity/earnings of that hour, LegalZoom makes sense.