There are some things in life that simply can’t be done without the help of a licensed attorney. Online legal services have made it easier than ever to get the assistance you need right from your own home, a far cry from the days of combing through yellow pages and visiting dreary offices. In fact, you may be surprised by how fast and affordable it is to hire a lawyer virtually.
From estate planning to starting a small business, there’s an online legal service for everyone. We reviewed all the options out there and picked the best of the best based on value, service quality, price, reputation and more.
LegalShield offers the best online legal service for families and businesses, with reasonable prices, stellar support and 24/7 convenience.
- Serves both individual and small business needs
- Affordable monthly plans
- No long-term contracts
- Offers live chat and emergency consultations
- Available in the United States and Canada
- Not designed for one-time use
- Cost of additional services can vary by location and attorney
- Some pre-existing needs may have an added cost
According to LegalShield, a single hour with an attorney can cost anywhere between $150 and $400, which is why the company offers a more affordable option through its all-inclusive plan. Monthly membership fees, which start at $29.95 for individuals and $49 for small businesses, cover many of the basic services you might need from an attorney at just a fraction of the cost.
LegalShield’s individual plan includes unlimited consultations and legal document reviews with a licensed attorney. You’ll also benefit from estate planning services; mortgage document preparation; and representation in certain scenarios related to traffic violations, family law, tax audits and more. If you need a lawyer for other reasons, you’ll get a 25% discount on a firm’s standard hourly rates. Your spouse and dependent children are also covered at no additional cost.
Small business owners can also get coverage from LegalShield with three membership tiers ranging from $49 to $169 per month. All plans include consultations and a 25% discount on hourly rates, but vary depending on the number of documents you’d like reviewed and the amount of correspondence you need your attorney to send on your behalf.
Although LegalShield uses a monthly subscription model, there’s no long-term commitment. Cancel anytime and get a prorated refund for any days not used. However, you should know that certain benefits don’t apply to pre-existing situations; for example, if you sign up for LegalShield the day after you receive a ticket, you won’t be able to use the plan’s traffic violation benefits.
BEST FREE ADVICEAvvo
If you have a simple legal question, Avvo is the best place to get free advice from licensed attorneys.
- Post a question and get advice from one or more attorneys
- Most questions are answered within 12 hours
- No cost for follow-up questions
- Provides a nationwide directory of attorneys
- Questions are public for anyone to see
- Limited to general information
- Filled with ads of lawyers in your area
Nothing is more frustrating than paying for an attorney’s time only to find out they can’t help you. If you’re faced with a legal issue and just need some guidance, try Avvo, an online directory of lawyers that also acts as the best place for free legal advice on the internet. According to Avvo, someone gets advice every five seconds on the platform’s Q&A board, usually within 12 hours or less.
To submit a question through Avvo, all you need to do is fill out an online form with your question, any relevant details, and your city and state. Within a few hours, at least one attorney in your area should respond. Avvo encourages follow-up questions as needed, which remain free as long as the attorney is willing and able to answer them.
The main caveat: Answers given on the Avvo Q&A board don’t constitute an official attorney-client relationship and are limited to general legal advice. At some point, you may be advised to hire a lawyer. In this case, you can use the Avvo directory to find a local attorney, or simply contact the one who answered your question.
Since Avvo’s Q&A board is public, you’ll have to keep in mind that any information you post is available for anyone to see. However, this does mean that you can search questions asked by others as an extra source of information. You should also keep an eye out for sponsored lawyer listings.
BEST SELF-SERVICE DOCUMENTSLegalZoom
LegalZoom makes the use of legal documents painless with simple online forms and low prices starting at just $29. You won’t find a better self-service experience.
- Straightforward, flat-rate pricing
- Excellent phone support
- 60-day satisfaction guarantee
- Memberships available
- Different pricing options can be confusing
- Not all documents are viewable online
- Extra cost for filing assistance (depending on state)
Whether you’re planning your estate or renting out a property, LegalZoom makes it fast and painless to get the documents you need. The self-service platform offers customized legal documents starting at as little as $29. Most documents only take a few minutes to fill out online and are then made available for download or sent to you by mail.
LegalZoom also offers full-service packages with access to a licensed attorney for a set period of time. For example, the Last Will Estate Plan includes hands-on assistance from a lawyer to create your last will and testament, financial power of attorney and living will, plus one year of ongoing legal guidance related to your estate. The price is $179 for one person or $279 for two people.
While many platforms offer comparable services to LegalZoom, the company really shines in customer service. Phone support representatives are available 14 hours per day during the week and nine hours per day on weekends. Many documents include unlimited revisions. If you’re not happy with the final product, simply contact customer service within 60 days for a full refund.
Most documents are delivered by digital download from LegalZoom, although a few can only be sent by mail. If you need help filing a document with the appropriate legal authority, this service is available but comes at an additional cost.
BEST FOR FINDING A LAWYERFindLaw
FindLaw’s directory lists hundreds of attorneys in 119 practice areas, making it one of the best places to find a lawyer online.
- Lists attorneys in all 50 states and Puerto Rico
- Searchable by location and legal issue
- Easy to find free consultations
- Free online resources
- Limited support options
- Many attorneys have few or no reviews
- Doesn’t include disciplinary information
Every legal issue requires a different type of attorney and the best place to find them all is FindLaw. The online directory lists hundreds of U.S. attorneys in 119 specific areas of law, making it easy to find the most qualified practitioner for your case.
To get started with FindLaw, simply enter your legal issue and geographic location and you’ll be presented with a list of qualified attorneys. If you prefer to speak with someone who offers free consultations, FindLaw gives you this option as a search filter. You can also narrow results by language if the person in need of representation doesn’t speak English as their primary language.
Aside from their attorney directory, FindLaw also has a free online library of legal resources. You’ll find a state-by-state encyclopedia that explains important laws in simple terms for those without a law degree. FindLaw’s guides on processes like forming an LLC and filing for bankruptcy can help you decide whether hiring an attorney is necessary.
While FindLaw shows client reviews for the attorneys in their directory, you may find that most attorneys have very few reviews or none at all. It’s worth taking the extra step to search each lawyer for reviews on other platforms. FindLaw also recommends checking with your local bar association to make sure the attorney has no disciplinary record. Of course, you should speak with multiple attorneys to choose the most qualified professional at the best price.
BEST FOR COMPLEX NEEDSRocket Lawyer
Most online legal services are fairly standardized, but Rocket Lawyer’s on-call attorneys are the best choice for complex matters.
- Offers both memberships and à la carte services
- Members get up to 40% off fees for hiring an On Call attorney
- Available in five countries
- Free seven-day trial
- Too complicated for those with simple needs
- Higher membership fees
- No weekend support
If your legal needs haven’t been met by standard online services, Rocket Lawyer is the next step. The company offers a wide array of solutions to individual and business customers in the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Spain and the Netherlands.
With Rocket Lawyer, you can choose to purchase services à la carte or sign up for a monthly membership. Memberships cost $39.99 per month and include unlimited documents, answers to legal questions and 30-minute consultations on new issues. This can quickly pay for itself, as fees for non-members range from $39.99 for a single document to $59.99 for a 30-minute consultation.
Members who aren’t satisfied with the scope of Rocket Lawyer’s listed services can benefit from Rocket Lawyer On Call. Here’s how it works: if your legal issue can’t be answered online, Rocket Lawyer will put you in touch with the right attorney for a 30-minute phone consultation. Those with complex problems that require further legal services can choose to continue working with that attorney at 40% off their hourly rate or 10% off their flat fee.
Rocket Lawyer memberships come with a seven-day trial and can be canceled at any time before the next billing cycle. The $39.99 monthly fee is higher than some competitors’ prices but may be worth it if you frequently need documents or complex legal help. It’s also worth noting that customer support is unavailable on weekends.
BEST FOR STARTUP BUSINESSESIncfile
Starting a business? Get the best legal support from Incfile, beginning with a free LLC filing.
- Offers a free LLC filing
- Incorporate in any U.S. state
- Choose from three packages
- Includes lifetime alerts before important filing dates
- Free LLC filing doesn’t include state fees
- Limited phone support hours
- Fees are higher in some states than others
From choosing a type of legal entity to staying in compliance, Incfile is the best online legal service to guide startups through every stage of growth. Since 2004, the company has helped more than half a million small businesses get started and keep running smoothly.
Incfile offers its customers three packages: Silver, Gold and Platinum. Pricing is determined by adding Incfile’s service fee to state filing fees. This means the total price you’ll pay depends on the type of entity and the state you decide to start your business in. For example, the Gold package costs $199 for an LLC in Arkansas but $354 to start the same business in New York.
Once you’ve started your business, Incfile continues to provide value by guiding you through annual compliance requirements and other necessary procedures. Gold members can take advantage of a business banking account, banking resolutions and tax consultation services; Platinum members also receive contract templates, expedited filing, and a domain name and business email with their fees.
The main downside to Incfile is its customer service. Phone support hours are limited to weekdays between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. CST, and customers have complained of slow response times in the past. However, Incfile recently addressed these complaints publicly by doubling the size of its customer service team and adding live chat support.
Online legal services are often cheaper and more convenient than standard attorneys, although they have their limitations. There’s no need to pay hundreds of dollars for a simple will, for example, when you can create your own online for less than $100. At the very least, online legal services are a great place to get started with free or low-cost advice before committing resources to long-term legal representation.
|Company||Why We Picked It||Key Benefit|
|LegalShield||Best Overall||Affordable and convenient service for most legal needs|
|Avvo||Best Free Advice||Get answers to legal questions for free|
|LegalZoom||Best Self-Service Documents||Generate legally binding documents in minutes|
|FindLaw||Best for Finding a Lawyer||Search from a directory of hundreds of licensed attorneys|
|Rocket Lawyer||Best for Complex Needs||Discounts up to 40% on legal fees for complex matters|
|Incfile||Best for Startup Businesses||Free LLC filing and affordable ongoing legal support|
Can You Talk to a Lawyer For Free?
You can generally talk to a lawyer for free by using an online Q&A board or scheduling a free consultation. However, you should note that these interactions aren’t considered an official attorney-client relationship. For anything more than general advice, you’ll need to pay the lawyer for their time.
Should I Hire a Lawyer to Form an LLC?
Forming an LLC doesn’t require hiring a lawyer, but it may be a good idea in some circumstances. For example, if you’re not certain that an LLC is the right type of entity to form, you should review all your options with an attorney. It’s also worth hiring an unbiased legal representative if the LLC will have multiple members acting as equal partners.
What Should a Simple Will Cost?
In short, you shouldn’t pay more than $100 for a simple will through an online legal service. With LegalZoom, a personalized will costs $89. However, if you pay LegalShield’s $24.95 monthly membership fee, you’ll get a will written by a licensed attorney at no additional charge.
How We Chose the Best Online Legal Services
Our list of the best online legal services was selected from a pool of over a dozen providers offering documents, consultations and/or referrals to local attorneys. We carried out our review with the mindset that online legal services should be not just affordable but reliable and trustworthy. In addition to comparing pricing for services, we also heavily weighed customer reviews and complaints for each company.