Several plaintiffs in Missouri are seeking class-action status in an effort to sue Legal Zoom. They claim that the services they received were legal in nature and should have been performed by an attorney licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction. Since they were not, they want a return of their fees and costs (and the triple damages allowed by the consumer protection law of the State). The lawsuit cites a North Carolina matter that held LegalZoom had engaged in the unauthorized practice of law.
It is not clear what the full motivation is behind this lawsuit. Many attorneys resent online services that offer document preparation for very low prices. The lawsuit may be a way for attorneys to get back at Legal Zoom for “stealing” their business.
However, it is rarely a good idea to attack a low-cost provider in an effort to boost your own business. Local stores are generally advised not to try to beat WalMart on prices – they cannot win that fight. Instead, small businesses can beat low prices with exceptional service and high quality goods.
That is what a licensed attorney can do for you, that an online service cannot. You can get a document prepared for a small fee online, but is it really the document you need? Is there something else you may need that you don’t even know about? Only a licensed attorney can give you legal advice on your particular situation. Document preparation is easy, giving good legal advice is not.
Here is the ABA Journal article about the suit with links to the complaint itself.
[We are not commenting on the merits of the lawsuit, nor criticizing Legal Zoom.]