Posts Tagged ‘Legal Ethics’

LegalZoom Sued for Unauthorized Practice of Law

I’ve been a little skeptical of LegalZoom, which bills itself as “the best legal document service on the web,”┬ásince I learned the site charges $149 to do a copyright registration. That’s a bit pricey given that the federal government’s copyright filing fee is only $35 and you don’t need to be a lawyer to file a copyright registration. LegalZoom further asserts on their site that “[a] lawyer would charge you approximately $780.00 to create and file a copyright application.” Without going into detail, I’ll simply say I am doubtful that is the case.

Given LegalZoom’s high profile on the Internet and its success selling its legal forms nationwide at sometimes-premium prices, the site was bound to step on a few Gucci-loafer-clad lawyer toes. In fact, a number of bloggers — and the great state of North Carolina’s bar association — have opined that LegalZoom’s practices may amount to the unauthorized practice of law.

Now word comes from Inventblog and IPWatchDog that LegalZoom has been hit with a class action lawsuit in Missouri which alleges that LegalZoom’s business goes beyond simply placing information into a form and enters the realm of “drawing . . . document[s] or instrument[s] affecting or relating to secular rights,” which under Missouri law may constitute the practice of law. The named plaintiffs in the suit used LegalZoom to incorporate and to purchase a will.

The complaint is available here at IPWatchDog.

Gene Quinn at IPWatchDog thinks that “while the LegalZoom model is one that has a lot of appeal, it seems to me that it is just too difficult to pull off without engaging in the unauthorized practice of law.” What do you think? Do LegalZoom’s practices cross legal or ethical lines? Would you be sorry to see its practice restricted? Had a good or bad experience with LegalZoom? Leave us a comment.