Top Startup Legal Services
Startups can significantly benefit from professional online legal services. These platforms offer cost-effective and easily accessible legal solutions tailored for early-stage businesses, eliminating the need for high-priced legal consultations.
Best Legal Services for Business in 2024:
- LegalZoom – Best Online Legal Service Overall
- Firstbase.io – Best for Startup Incorporation
- Rocket Lawyer – Best for Solving Complicated Legal Issues
- Clerky – Best for Fundraising
- LegalShield – Best for Startups on a Budget
- Nolo – Best for Legal Documents
- Northwest – Best for Utah Clients
- UpCounsel – Best for Finding Startup Lawyers
With services ranging from business incorporation, trademark registration, to drafting standard legal documents, these solutions empower entrepreneurs to handle many basic legal tasks without the steep learning curve. For those interested in leveraging these platforms, continue reading our review below.
Best Startup Legal Services: LegalZoom
Don't let legal issues slow down your startup's growth. LegalZoom offers services for incorporation, intellectual property, contracts, and more.
LegalZoom offers cost-effective legal services for startups and small businesses. Their features include help with the development of a business advisory plan as well as an annual business evaluation. Other notable features include unlimited 30-minute legal consultations, one-hour annual business evaluation, and legal checkups, as well as access to over 150 business and legal forms.
They offer two Business Advisory plans that differ based on length of time: 12 months at $39.09 per month (billed annually at $469) or six months at $43.17 per month (billed every six months at $259).
- Extensive list of features available on all plans
- Easy sign up
- Unlimited legal consultations
- Lower cost than hiring an on-staff attorney
- Turnaround times are reportedly slow for some services
LegalZoom is our choice for the best legal service for startups overall. Not only is it an inexpensive option, but it also boasts valuable included features for your startup’s legal needs.
Firstbase.io is a formation service for startups. Their service, Firstbase Agent, is a registered agent service that also provides compliance support.
With Firstbase, you receive automated compliance reminders and a compliance dashboard with document access. Plus, annual reports and franchise tax filings are included with the registered agent service.
There are two plan options available with Firstbase Agent: Light at $99 per year per state and Autopilot at $299 per year per state. Firstbase also offers a variety of other business services, including formation, bookkeeping, business address services, and compliant hiring.
- All-in-one compliance services
- Automated reminders ensure your startup stays compliant
- Tax services available on the Autopilot plan
- Geared toward startups
- Valuable features only included in the Autopilot plan
- More expensive than competitors
Firstbase is a fantastic option if you are looking to bundle a few legal and compliance services with a registered agent service. However, if you opt to use Firstbase, you may consider using one of their customer discounts to receive additional legal support at a lower cost.
3. Rocket Lawyer
Rocket Lawyer is the best legal service for more complex issues. Catering to both individuals and businesses, the platform provides customizable legal forms, attorney advice, and various other legal resources, making legal services more accessible and affordable through its online model.
- On Call attorney service gets answers to your legal questions from business lawyers within 24 hours.
- Extended customer support hours on weekdays from 9am to 9pm ET.
- Document Defense connects you with a qualified attorney to proofread and enforce your documents.
- More expensive than other providers
We also collaborated with Rocket Lawyer to offer a deal for our users through the New Business Bundle. The plan bundles Rocket Lawyer’s premium membership services and more at a discounted price of $349.99 + State Fees (Regularly $649.97 + State Fees). You’ll receive the following:
- Free Incorporation Services
- Registered Agent Service for 1 year
- Legal Services such as:
- Easy-to-use documents and contracts
- Fast answers from attorneys
- Consultations with business lawyers
Clerky is dedicated to ensuring startup legal paperwork is done accurately. Their services range from formation to fundraising and everything in between.
Clerky offers a Company Lifetime Package for a one-time fee of $819. This includes expedited filing fees for incorporation, first-year of registered agent free, annual report and franchise tax reminders, as well as the suite of Clerky products for commercial, fundraising, hiring, and maintenance.
You can also opt to utilize Clerky’s services on a pay-per-use basis, which range from $9-$99 depending on the document and use case.
- Charges are only initiated when documents are finalized
- Legal document types range from formation to fundraising to hiring
- Pay-per-use paperwork filing available
- Accurate, dependable legal paperwork services
- Higher cost than some competitors for certain services
- Equity compensation products require a stock plan through Clerky
Clerky is a great legal paper service for startups that want their legal documents done right. Their prices are slightly higher than some competitors, specifically for formation services, however they are a highly-reviewed service with a myriad of services available to startups and their founders.
LegalShield is a pre-paid legal service geared towards small businesses. There are three packages offered: the Small Business Essentials Plan at $49 per month, the Small Business Plus plan at $99 per month, or the Small Business Pro Plan at $169 per month.
All plans include up to five designated consultations, a 25% discount on your provider lawyer’s standard hourly rate outside of plan coverage, and collection letter drafting. The Plus and Pro plans offer additional services as well as higher maximums for each service use outside of designated consultations.
- Competitively priced
- Several plans available
- Add-ons available for additional services not included in all plans
- High customer reviews
- Basic plan’s features are fairly limited
- Limited consultations on all plans
LegalShield is a good option for small businesses. Specifically, businesses that can have their legal needs met by the competitively priced Small Business Essentials Plan. For startup-centric services, you may need to opt for a different business legal service.
Nolo offers a DIY approach to startup legal services. On the Nolo website, you can find do-it-yourself legal products such as forms, online documents, resources, and software.
If you’re looking to hire an attorney, you can complete a search on the Nolo platform, which boasts a list of over 30,000 attorneys. Rather than a pre-paid legal service, Nolo is more akin to a legal services marketplace where you can find resources in the form of hired services, documents, and software.
- Extensive list of attorneys for hire listed
- 50 years of experience
- All products are created and updated by attorneys or legal editors
- Free legal consultation available through the site
- No pre-paid legal services like competitors
- DIY legal services are not always recommended
Nolo is a great service for the do-it-yourself founder. However, if you are looking for legal support, you may be better off with a pre-paid legal service or hiring an attorney to ensure your documents are filed correctly.
7. Northwest Registered Agent
Northwest Registered Agent’s legal services, Law on Call for Utah clients, is the first non-lawyer-owned law firm in the United States. Due to this, Northwest is able to keep their prices for business legal services starting at just $99 per hour. Plus, hours required for legal services are established upfront, which means no hidden costs.
Law on Call’s legal services include drafting lease agreements, corporate bylaws, employee contracts, and non-disclosure agreements to help protect your startup’s intellectual property.
- No hidden costs or fees
- Draft, review, and revision services available for business documents
- Able to bundle with Northwest Registered Agent’s other services
- Additional legal services available, such as end-of-life planning, rental housing law, and real estate law
- Services limited to Utah clients
- Higher costs than some competitors
Overall, Northwest Registered Agent is a great legal service for startups looking for basic document drafting, revision, and reviewing services. Plus, Northwest charges less per hour for their services than many attorneys.
UpCounsel is a marketplace of freelance attorneys used by over 10,000 businesses ranging from small businesses to large corporations. To use UpCounsel, you simply post a job, receive proposals, and hire a lawyer.
Popular areas of service include agreements, business formation, patents, trademarks, immigration, general counsel, labor, and securities and finance. Notable features include free legal documents, forms, and articles, as well as document management and storage.
UpCounsel doesn’t offer exact pricing as the hourly cost may vary. However, sample hourly rates are $125-$250 per hour for commercial contracts, $175-$275 per hour for employment and HR, and $250-$350 per hour for general counsel.
- Legal services on demand
- Used by major brands such as Airbnb and Menlo
- Job postings are free
- No overhead costs associated with pricing
- Higher cost than many competitors
- Email customer support only
If you are looking to work directly with a lawyer but want to avoid exorbitant costs, UpCounsel’s marketplace of freelancer attorneys is a great option.
Pros & Cons of Online Legal Services
- For small business owners that can’t afford a conventional law firm, these subscription-based online legal services deliver huge value.
- Convenience is the big factor here, especially when it comes to getting quick answers to specific questions and legal document preparation.
- Each service also provides secure cloud-based digital document storage so they’re safe and all in one place.
- With some providers you can form relationships with specific attorneys who work with people through these platforms full-time. Think of these providers as on-demand legal services that you can access around the clock.
- There are times when you shouldn’t use online legal services. Some situations call for the expertise of a business lawyer. These providers are never a true substitute for conventional legal assistance.
- Should anything happen and you get sued, these providers have waived all responsibility. You’re fully responsible for correctly and legally using these services. Especially regarding the document libraries, it’s on you to make certain all the info is correct.
Which Online Legal Service Should You Choose?
Our favorite is LegalZoom because they offer comprehensive online legal services with great customer service. Overall, it offers the best deal for business owners seeking high-quality legal advice and services throughout their company's lifetime.
Which online legal service is best?
Our overall recommendation for online legal services for startups is LegalZoom. Not only are they cost-effective, they include valuable features and services that can help your startup navigate legal matters and compliance.
What is better than LegalShield?
LegalShield is a great legal services option, especially for small businesses on a budget. However, if you are looking for a more robust set of legal services, we recommend LegalZoom.
What is the difference between LegalShield and LegalZoom?
LegalShield and LegalZoom are competing online legal services platforms. The key difference between the two is that LegalShield offers monthly pre-paid plans, whereas LegalZoom offers a 12-month and a 6-month legal plan with a variety of legal services included.
How do I choose a law firm for a startup?
If you’re hiring a law firm for your startup, you should consider the following: their experience with startups, the cost of services, and added benefits for utilizing their services, such as networking capabilities.