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How to Find a Business Lawyer Through Online Legal Services Providers

chatting with lawyer from online legal services provider

If you own a small business, sooner or later, you’ll need to talk to a lawyer. We’ve gone over how to find a business lawyer the old-fashioned way. We’ve also pointed out that, sometimes, you don’t need a lawyer to help you with, for example, starting your LLC or corporation. In this article, we’ll look at how to find business lawyers through online legal services providers like LegalZoom, Rocket Lawyer, Nolo, and UpCounsel.

What Is an Online Legal Services Provider?

Online legal services providers don’t actually provide legal services. By law, they’re not allowed to (the formal term is unauthorized practice of law).

Instead, they operate various types of technology platforms. The platforms help potential clients like you search for lawyers licensed in your state working in the specialty you need. However, they only look through their own network of lawyers. Some services vet their lawyers closely but others seem less selective.

Some online legal services providers also run document filing services like LLC and corporate formation services. Others have online document templates for do-it-yourselfers buy. These templates often range from a real estate lease agreement to wills to nondisclosure agreements.

For this blog, we consider a provider to be an online legal services provider only if they can put you in touch with a lawyer.

When Should You Use an Online Legal Services Provider?

Small businesses can use online legal services providers as another way to find a lawyer. They will send you a list of lawyers knowledgeable in the legal area you need and who are located near you.

With many of these platforms, you’ll send out a legal question and get bids from lawyers who would like to do the work. The bids should describe what they can do for you and how much they’ll charge. They know they’ll be competing with other lawyers, so, hopefully, they’ll quote you a reasonable rate.

For example, if you want to start an LLC with several co-owners or investors, you can ask what documents a lawyer typically recommends, what the process will be, and how much they’ll charge. You’ll likely get bids from several lawyers, and you can pick the one that you think will spend the time counseling everyone and tailor the documents without charging sky-high rates.

Some of these platforms are free to use, so there seems to be no harm in trying them out before you make a final hiring decision.

Below, we’ll give a survey of the four big-name online legal services providers. You’ll learn what they do and how to use them to find a business lawyer.


LegalZoom started in 2001. It is now a publicly traded company with about $200M in annual revenue.

What Services Does LegalZoom Provide?

LegalZoom’s services can be divided into three broad categories:

  • Business
  • Wills, Trusts, and Family
  • Attorney Advice

Under their business-related services, LegalZoom will help you start an LLC, corporation, nonprofit, and several types of partnerships. They also provide registered agent for service of process services, as well as various document filing services with different states. They can help you get a trademark, copyright, or patent. Finally, they provide simple contract templates for download.

Here’s a full list of their services.

If You Need a Lawyer’s Help, Can LegalZoom Can Put You in Touch with Lawyers?

LegalZoom is different from pure business formation services. At LegalZoom, you can hire a lawyer to help you along the way. So, if you wish to start an LLC or corporation and you have co-owners or investors, you might want to look into using LegalZoom.

It’s not very specific on LegalZoom’s website, but, when they do put you in contact with a lawyer, you might have several to choose from. If this is the case, then be sure to look into each lawyer’s background and experience level before you make a decision.

How Does LegalZoom Charge for Their Services?

LegalZoom offers a subscription plan and a pay-per-use plan.

LegalZoom’s subscription plan is called the Business Advisory Plan. You can pay for six months (for $216) or twelve months (for $375). The plan comes with free 30 minute consultations for each new legal matter and free reviews of contracts and other legal documents of 10 pages or less. If the document is 10-15 pages, you’ll be billed for a flat rate of $39 and if 16-25 pages, then at $99.

Longer and more complex matters are billed at a 25% discount of the lawyer’s hourly rates. Be aware, though, that each lawyer gets to decide their own hourly rate. So, this 25% discount doesn’t guarantee any savings. It’s not unusual to find lawyers who bill at $400 or above, and, even at 25% off, they’re still billing at $300/hour.

If you want help in specific areas such as trademarks or patents, you can hire a professional separate from the Business Advisory Plan. But, if you want contract review or advice on multiple owner LLCs or corporations, you’ll have to subscribe to the Business Advisory Plan first and then find a lawyer through the plan.

Rocket Lawyer

Rocket Lawyer was founded in 2009. It has a presence in the US, UK, France, Spain, and the Netherlands. Rocket Lawyer has staff attorneys that can answer legal questions, but, if you dig deeper, this might only be in Utah.

What Services Does Rocket Lawyer Provide?

Rocket Lawyer divides its services into three general categories:

  • Business Law
  • Real Estate Law
  • Family Law

Under these three categories, you can get free legal forms, start an LLC or corporation, and speak to a lawyer on a question or have them review a document.

If You Need Legal Help, Can Rocket Lawyer Put You in Contact with Lawyers?

Rocket Lawyer has a network of lawyers divided into practice areas and geographic locations. They seem to vet their lawyers, but it’s not clear how rigorous their vetting process is.

If you have a legal question, you can either ask a written question or set up a 30 minute call with one of the lawyers. Rocket Lawyer sends you a list of lawyers you can pick from, so you’re not stuck with using the one lawyer they give you.

How Does Rocket Lawyer Charge for Their Services?

Rocket Lawyer has two ways to charge for their services—by subscription or on a per-item or per-service basis.

Rocket Lawyer’s subscription service is called Rocket Lawyer On Call. It cost $39.99 per month, and you can cancel at any time. If you wish to use Rocket Lawyer without a subscription, the document templates or services cost from $9.99 to $149.99.

The subscription service includes:

  • Unlimited downloads of legal templates
  • Written legal questions for lawyers to answer
  • 30 minute consultation calls with a lawyer on new legal matters
  • Discounts on lawyer’s regular rates if legal matter requires more time to handle
  • Free LLC or incorporation service for new subscribers and discounts on additional LLCs or incorporations
  • Additional free or discounted services

Depending on the state, sometimes, you can hire a lawyer for a flat rate on a particular service. According to Rocket Lawyer’s On Call Terms of Service, the lawyers charge a minimum of $125/hour up to their regular hourly rates. If you have the Rocket Lawyer subscription service, the lawyer will give you 10% off their flat rate or up to 40% off their hourly rate.


Nolo is one of the oldest places on the internet where you can buy do-it-yourself legal templates and forms. They’re currently owned by Internet Brands, which also owns one of the oldest lawyer directories called Martindale-Hubbell.

What Services Does Nolo Provide?

Nolo sells books and legal forms in all areas of law for the do-it-yourselfer. Nolo can help small businesses start an LLC or form a corporation at competitive rates. You can also buy business forms and templates from Nolo.

If you need the help of a lawyer, Nolo can also put you in contact with one in their network.

If You Need Legal Help, Can Nolo Put You in Contact with Lawyers?

Nolo can put you in contact with a lawyer by sending you a short list of lawyers practicing in the area you need and are located near you. Nolo’s lawyer network covers most practice areas and all the states in the US.

Nolo does not appear to vet the lawyers in their network, however. The lawyers pay Nolo an advertising fee to generate both exclusive and non-exclusive leads. So, when Nolo presents you with a list of lawyers, you’ll still have to research the lawyers to find one you like.

It’s less relevant to readers of this blog because we focus on small businesses, but Nolo’s lawyer network is not limited to business lawyers. If you need, say a wills and estates, car accident, or divorce lawyer, Nolo can send a list of lawyer names to you too. Nolo owns different websites that focus on these areas, so people who need help in these areas can learn the basics of the law and find a lawyer afterward.

How Does Nolo Charge for Their Services?

Nolo charges a fee for you to buy legal templates or forms. If you need help forming your LLC or corporation, they’ll also charge a processing fee. However, Nolo does not charge to send you a list of lawyers near you.

Instead, it’s the lawyers who pay for a listing on Nolo’s legal directory. This is how the old Martindale-Hubbell legal directory worked, so Nolo is merely updating that directory to an online directory searchable by consumers.

Of course, each lawyer will have different rates for their services. Going through Nolo seems no different than searching for and vetting a lawyer yourself. Look to our How to Find a Good Lawyer article for tips.


Of all the online legal services providers in this article, UpCounsel is probably the strictest in picking the lawyers in their network. UpCounsel started in 2012 and seems to have gone through lots of ups and downs. In February 2020, it announced that it would shut down completely. But then it was quickly bought out, so it continues to operate.

If You Need Legal Help, Can UpCounsel Put You in Contact with Lawyers?

All the other online legal services providers in this article provide both business-related legal services and personal legal services. UpCounsel, however, mostly focuses on business-related services. They don’t list all the services they provide, but they say that they mainly serve small businesses, tech startups, and large businesses.

Not only can you find general business lawyers on the UpCounsel website, you can also find specialists like labor and employment lawyers, patent lawyers, and commercial contract lawyers. UpCounsel has legal templates and explanatory articles on its website. From the list of templates and articles, you can get a good idea on the types of law UpCounsel lawyers practice in.

UpCounsel doesn’t have a pure LLC or corporate formation service, but they have plenty of lawyers in their network who can help you through the process. If you have co-business owners, UpCounsel seems like a good place to find a lawyer who can help you and your co-owner talk through issues commonly encountered by businesses with multiple owners.

UpCounsel seems to have a strict vetting process for lawyers who want to join their network. UpCounsel lawyers have an average of 14 years of legal experience. A large number of these lawyers have Big Law experience. According to Wikipedia, as of 2019, UpCounsel had 25,000 lawyers in its network, providing legal services to 18,000 companies.

How Does UpCounsel Charge for Their Services?

You can post a business-related legal question on UpCounsel for free. UpCounsel will pick a few lawyers from their network who are practicing in the right area and are located near you. These lawyers will send you proposals on what they can do for you, including an estimate of the costs. UpCounsel publishes some typical rates and flat fees on their website, but Wikipedia estimates that the charges are around $70-$250 per hour.

You get the pick the lawyer you wish to work with. You hire the lawyer directly, and UpCounsel is technically not involved in this working relationship. Once the lawyer finishes the job, you pay the lawyer through UpCounsel’s payment processing service. (The UpCounsel Terms of Service does say that they will keep your payment info on file in case of disputes.)

The lawyer pays UpCounsel a fee based on another agreement between UpCounsel and the lawyer. Wikipedia claims this fee is between 12% to 40% for each job.

Can You Hire a Good Lawyer Through Online Legal Services Providers?

Yes, you can definitely find a good lawyer through these online legal services platforms. However, you’ll still have to look through the names suggested to you and do the last bit of evaluation yourself. It’s important to look through their profiles and talk to them to see if you feel comfortable with them.

It’s true that some platforms like LegalZoom and Rocket Lawyer pre-negotiate some rates for you. But lawyers are still free to adjust within those rates. For instance, LegalZoom lawyers must give you a 25% discount off their hourly rates if your legal question turns out to be very complex. However, it’s not unusual for a lawyer to charge $400/hour. This means their discounted rate would still be $300/hour.

Lawyers aren’t dummies. When they’re trying to build their practice, they might discount their rates. However, as soon as business picks up, they’ll increase their rates. They might also hire paralegals (or patent agents) to do most of the work, while they supervise and review.

So, yes, it’s definitely possible to catch a rising legal star on these legal platforms as they try to build their practice. But be aware that these lawyers might not stay for long. Or they might increase their rates or only supervise the work.

We think these online legal services providers can save you time locating the lawyer you need. At the end of the day, though, your odds of finding a good lawyer are probably the same as if you looked for one the old-fashioned way.

Interested in starting and running a small business? Here’s the beginning of our step-by-step guide: What to do right after getting that great business idea.

DISCLAIMER: This article does not constitute legal or accounting advice. Instead, it contains general information. The information gives you the background you’ll need to hit the ground running when you do go get advice from a lawyer or accountant. Only lawyers and accountants properly licensed in your state/country are qualified to give you legal or accounting advice.

Questions? Comments?