Latest legal victory has LegalZoom poised for growth

Chas Rampenthal, LegalZooms general counsel, has helped the firm prevail against lawsuits brought by several states. Photo by Anne Tritt.

In recent years, LegalZoom has faced lawsuits in eight states seeking to shut it down for violating state laws barring the unauthorized practice of law. But with a notable recent victory in South Carolina, and having fended off all but one of the other lawsuits, LegalZoom is anything but shutting down.

To the contrary, LegalZoom, which began offering legal forms online in 2001, is poised to significantly broaden the range of services it offers consumers and small businesses. Already it has expanded into prepaid legal services, operating plans in 41 states and the District of Columbia. Now it is looking ahead to offering a continuum of products and services, from simple forms to full-fledged legal advice, with both lawyers and nonlawyers in the mix.

We need to continue to evolve, continue to innovate and continue to connect consumers with the services that are right for them at a price they can afford to pay, says Chas Rampenthal, LegalZooms general counsel.

Meanwhile, legal ethicists such as Deborah L. Rhode, director of the Center on the Legal Profession at Stanford Law School, say it is time for the legal profession to drop efforts to shut down such companies for UPL and instead focus on how best to regulate them to protect their customers.

With respect to LegalZoom, the train has left the station, Rhode says. Theyve got a couple million satisfied customers and its going to be really hard for anyone to shut them down.

In a MayFordham Law Reviewarticle, Rhode and co-author Lucy Buford Ricca, executive director of the Center on the Legal Profession, argue that the legal market is primed for a total transformation driven by innovative companies such as LegalZoom. From a regulatory perspective, they write, the key focus should not be blocking these innovations from the market, but rather using regulation to ensure that the publics interests are met.

The nub of complaints against LegalZoom is not the self-help documents it provides, but the way it provides them. At its website, customers buy documents to form a business, register a trademark, create a will and address other common legal needs. Questionnaires guide customers through creation of the document, after which LegalZoom employees review the answers for spelling, consistency and completeness.

Some, including the North Carolina State Bar, maintain that these elements of guidance and review transform LegalZoom from simple document provider to legal adviser. Others, such asRichard Granat, co-chair of the ABA eLawyering Task Force and president and CEO of DirectLaw Inc., contend such arguments are nothing more than an effort to protect lawyers incomes.

In 2008 the North Carolina bar issued LegalZoom a cease-and-desist letter. The matter made its way to North Carolina business court where, last March, a judge put off deciding the UPL issue, saying he required additional evidence to fully understand LegalZooms process for preparing complex documents.

Two weeks earlier, the high court in neighboring South Carolina gave LegalZoom a green light to operate.

Adopting the findings of a special referee it appointed to investigate the company, the court held that LegalZooms practices do not constitute the unauthorized practice of law.

The referee compared the functionality of LegalZooms software to a scrivener who transcribes information without giving advice or consultation: LegalZooms software acts at the specific instruction of the customer and records the customers original information verbatim, exactly as it is provided by the customer. The software does not exercise any judgment or discretion, but operates automatically in the same fashion as a mail merge program.

Previously, LegalZoom settled UPL suits in California, Missouri and Washington. Lawsuits in Alabama and Ohio were dismissed.Besides North Carolina, the company still faces a challenge in Arkansas, where the matter is in arbitration.

Even as LegalZoom has battled claims of unauthorized practice, it has moved closer to actual practice. Launching its own prepaid legal services plans was one step; another was to develop practice management systems to help the lawyers in these plans deliver services more efficiently.

But Rampenthal sees his company spurring broader changes in the legal services market, moving it toward an ecosystem that will more closely resemble the way medicine is delivered.

You dont walk right in and see the doctor, he explains. You see nurses and technicians and practitioners. The doctor relies on those other professionals, and the system lets the doctors do what they do best. Paralegals and other licensed legal professionals will provide assistance and advice for certain matters and refer more complex matters to attorneys.

LegalZoom declined to disclose its revenues. As of August 2012, it had served some 2 million customers, according to a prospectus it filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in advance of a planned initial public offering. In 2011, it brought in revenues of $156 million and was on track to bring in close to $200 million in 2012. Last January, it dropped its IPO after selling $200 million in equity to the private equity firm Permira.

With LegalZooms train steaming along at full throttle, and given other changes in the legal industry, the unauthorized practice debate is no longer relevant, many say.

The best approach is to recognize that these new players are providing a kind of legal service, says Andrew M. Perlman, director of the Institute on Law Practice Technology and Innovation at Suffolk University Law School. What we call it is less important than what we do with them. We need to find a way to appropriately regulate what they do so that the public is protected.

Regulation, Perlman believes, would encourage innovation in the delivery of legal services by eliminating the legal uncertainties faced by companies such as LegalZoom. The more we resolve these questions through regulation, the more well free up innovation.

However, Milan Markovic, associate professor at Texas A&M University School of Law, questions the premise that companies such as LegalZoom are needed because of the failure of the legal profession to meet the needs of middle-income consumers. My problem is we have almost no data to support that, and the types of services LegalZoom offers actually can be obtained, he says, sometimes at even lower cost.

Markovic would prefer that bar associations accept we are in a do-it-yourself age and directly provide to consumers more of the documents and services they want. To the extent evidence can substantiate legitimate failures in the legal services market, however, Markovic would support regulatory or licensing schemes that would allow for alternatives.

No one can say whether LegalZoom has seen the last of these UPL suits. But in its 2012 SEC filing, it noted the lawsuits then pending and added: We anticipate that we will continue to be the target for such lawsuits in the future.

This article originally appeared in the August 2014 issue of the ABA Journal with this headline: Why Is This Man Smiling? Latest legal victory has LegalZoom poised for growth.

Schools start to rethink zero tolerance policies

CRM software providers automate updates; law firms make money

Clemency project recipient gets a smartphoneand hope

This city may have the first criminal justice system to be led entirely by black women

More women are attaining law firm partnerships: Is the Me Too movement providing a boost?

Some choices for legal billing software that really pay off

Reed Smith confirms it wont raise associate salaries

We welcome your comments, but please adhere to ourcomment policyand theABA Code of Conduct.

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.

Judge strikes down Kansas voter ID law and orders Kris Kobach to take additional CLE

Supreme Court upholds Trumps travel ban, cites national security justification

How Lawyer Moms of America quickly gained 10,000 members to oppose family separations

The think like a lawyer approach to law school is outdated

Woman who sued lawyer over injuries from flung pasta is awarded more than $85K

Free to ABA members and ABA Journal subscribers

Remembering RFK and the lawyers committee he inspired

Its not the associate salaries, its the human skills that challenge law firms

Lawyers weigh in: How to prevent stress, substance abuse and depression in the profession

How one millennial and his firm see law practice today

Podcast powered by Legal Talk Network

Set your own expectations, says Andrs Gallegos

Accomplished lawyers share life lessons in new Asked and Answered: Lived and Learned podcast series

Scottoline, Tobisman and Turow discuss their 2018 Harper Lee Prize-nominated novels

Tech is not the only answer to legal aid issues, justice center director Joyce Raby says

Attending the ABA Annual Meeting? Heres a sneak peek

Trumps attacks on courts undermine judicial independence

Educating the community about judicial independence can help preserve it

How one court preserves judicial independence through strong intergovernmental relations

The organized bar must address attacks on the judiciary

Yahoo News – Latest News

A number of companies, including some automakers, explain how the ongoing trade war is damaging their brands and, in many cases, costing jobs.

Warning of a smaller GM»

Trump at loggerheads with two conflicting priorities

How a fake news story helped expose a real crisis

FEMA housing assistance to end for Puerto Ricans

Eyeing 2020, some Dems say abolish ICE

Excessive heat grips much of United States

The coming war over Trumps next Supreme Court nominee

Immediately after Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement from the Supreme Court on Wednesday, pro-abortion-rights and civil rights organizations across the country began preparing for a fight. The National Organization for Women and Generation Progress are both hoping that people will make a loud noise and put pressure on Democrats and Republicans to delay a vote on President Trumps nomination until after the midterm elections in November. Were urging young people and were urging everyone in the U.S. who cares about the issues our organization cares about, to contact their senators, said Giovanni Rocco, a press associate for Generation Progress, told Yahoo News on Thursday.

Chief Justice John Roberts inherits expanded role as the Supreme Courts man in the middle

With fall challenge looming, McCaskill faces critical Supreme Court vote

Larry Nassar And Trainer Debbie Van Horn Charged With Child Sexual Abuse

Larry Nassar and former USA Gymnastics trainer Debbie Van Horn were charged with multiple counts of child sexual abuse on Friday afternoon. During a press conference in Walker County, Texas, prosecutors and city officials announced that Nassar, who is currently serving a life sentence, was indicted on six charges of child sexual assault and Van Horn on one charge of child sexual assault. It is still an open investigation, Walker County District Attorney David Weeks said.

Top USA Gymnastics medical officer indicted with Nassar for sexual assault at Karolyi Ranch

Former Team USA Gymnastics Doctor Larry Nassar Has Been Charged With Sexual Assault in Texas

Capital Gazette journalists recount horrific Annapolis mass shooting

As Thursdays mass shooting at the Capital Gazette played out on cable news and social media, the journalists caught in the newspapers Annapolis, Md., offices shared the horror of what they had witnessed. Phil Davis, the Capital Gazettes courts and crime reporter, did his best to take stock of the carnage he witnessed that left at least five people dead and several gravely wounded.

Journalist starts GoFundMe to help Capital Gazette newspaper shooting victims in Annapolis

Maryland newspaper reporter after shooting: We are not the enemy

Donations Help Bail Out Oregon Mom Charged With Manslaughter After 1-Year-Old Dies in Hot Car

Donations from strangers helped bail out of mother who was charged with manslaughter after leaving her 1-year-old daughter in a hot car in Oregon. Nicole Engler, a pediatric nurse, was given a $50,000 bail when she was charged with second-degree manslaughter after accidentally forgetting her daughter was in the backseat as she drove herself to work last Thursday. When queried by the baristas as to how her daughter was, she responded, Having another happy play day at daycare, Englers attorney, David Terry, wrote in a letter to the Oregon Criminal Defense Lawyers Association.

The big question people always ask when it comes to retirement is How much money do I need to save to retire comfortably? And the big answer $1 million sends many of us into a head-first tailspin. A lot of what you hear in the way of retirement advice is 50 shades of wrong. Its time to rethink some popular truths about retirement.

Judge Manish Shah said Lidia Karine Souza can have custody of her son, Diogo, who has spent four weeks at a government-contracted shelter in Chicago. The decision came two days after a different judge ordered the government to reunite more than 2,000 immigrant children with their families within 30 days, or 14 days for those younger than 5. Souzas attorneys nonetheless moved forward with an emergency hearing in their lawsuit against the Trump administration to demand her son be immediately released.

9-year-old Brazilian boy reunited with mom seeking asylum after US judge orders his immediate release

Brazilian Boy, 9, Reunited With Mom After U.S. Judges Order

As Thai search enters seventh day, divers cling to hope of finding lost boys

By Panu Wongcha-um CHIANG RAI, Thailand (Reuters) – Having failed to find any sign of 12 boys and their soccer coach during a week-long search of flooded cave complex in northern Thailand, rescuers held out hope on Saturday that the group could have found safety on a rocky mound in one of the chambers. Divers were still some way from the potential safety spot, called Pattaya Beach after one of Thailands best known tourist destinations. Meantime, a police search party has entered the cave from the surface, having drilled a 50-metre long shaft from the mountainside.

Unable to find lost boys, Thai police drop survival packages into cave

Divers progress in search for missing Thai children trapped in cave

Hard to believe its over: The last days of an American dairy farm

Since 1970, more than 90 perfect of all U.S. dairy farms have closed due to low milk prices and industry restructuring. Recently, a corporate decision by Walmart led to the shutdown of a three-generation family-run dairy farm in Kentucky.

Quebec Says Canada Should Rethink Milk Pricing to Appease U.S.

America Has a Cheese Problem Thats Only Going to Get Worse

Maverick entrepreneurs space rocket fails at blast off

A rocket developed by a maverick Japanese entrepreneur and convicted fraudster exploded shortly after liftoff Saturday, in a major blow to his bid to send Japans first privately backed rocket into space. Interstellar Technologies, founded by popular internet service provider Livedoors creator Takafumi Horie, launched the unmanned rocket, MOMO-2, at around 5:30 am (2030 GMT Friday) from a test site in Taiki, southern Hokkaido. Interstellar Technologies said it would continue its rocket development programme after analysing the latest failure.

Japans first privately backed rocket explodes just after lift-off

Rocket developed by Japan startup in flames after liftoff

Justice Anthony Kennedys Retirement Puts Key Issues On The Line

The likely replacement of Justice Anthony Kennedy by a hard-right conservative, as promised by President Donald Trump, will immediately imperil the rights of women, religious and racial minorities, and the LGBTQ community. Kennedy, who announced his retirement Wednesday, has often been a swing vote on the Supreme Court since Sandra Day OConnor retired in 2006. On many of the courts most significant cases, the court split 5-4, with Kennedy more often than not being the fifth vote that decided which side prevailed.

Heres How Donald Trumps Influence on the Supreme Court Compares to Other Presidents

Trump may nominate Supreme Court pick before July 10: White House…

California park slaying probe looks back to 7 past shootings

Detectives investigating the fatal shooting of a camper at a popular California wilderness park last week will look for links to seven past shootings in the area dating back to 2016, the Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department said Friday. Investigators had previously been looking at three past shootings. A department statement said there was no evidence to suggest previous shootings were related to the June 22 killing but they will be explored because the motive for the homicide remained unknown.

Murder at California park preceded by 6 shootings since 2016

Even more shootings uncovered at Malibu park before father was killed while camping, Sheriffs Department says

Sean Hannity Blames Maxine Waters For Capital Gazette Shooting

Conservative commentator Sean Hannity made incendiary claims on his radio show Thursday afternoon, suggesting that Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) was somehow responsible for a shooting at the Capital Gazette offices earlier in the day. An attacker opened fire Thursday inside the building of the Captial Gazette, owned by The Baltimore Sun, reportedly killing multiple people. During Premiere Networks The Sean Hannity Show, Hannity responded to the news of the shooting by saying, Oh, good grief.

Stunned Community Mourns Capital Gazette Shooting Victims

Capital Gazette shooting survivor speaks out: I thought I was going to die

Latest E. Coli Outbreak Is Over; Consumer Reports Says Its Safe to Eat Romaine Lettuce

Consumer Reports has no financial relationship with advertisers on this site. One of the nations deadliest E. coli outbreaks is over, the government advised Thursday, and Consumer Reports says its now safe to eat romaine lettuce again.

Deadly E. coli outbreak in lettuce traced to contaminated water

Romaine lettuce outbreak tied to tainted irrigation canal

Revellers battle it out with wine in Spain

Revellers poured buckets of wine over each other in northern Spain on Friday in an annual wine battle in the countrys Rioja producing-region. La Batalla de Vino is held each June in the town of Haro on the feast of St Peter, an event organizers say draws

The Indonesian tourist island of Bali closed its international airport on Friday, stranding thousands of travellers, as the Mount Agung volcano gushed an 8,200-feet column of ash and smoke. The National Disaster Mitigation Agency said nearly 450 flights were cancelled, affecting some 75,000 people. The regional Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre in Darwin, Australia, said winds would carry the ash southwest toward Java, Indonesias most densely populated island.

Volcano eruptions force Bali to close main airport

Volcano shuts airport in Indonesias Bali

Explainer: What will it cost to denuclearize North Korea?

At a summit in Singapore in early June with U.S. President Donald Trump, North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un pledged to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Follow-up talks between U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and North Korean officials are due to be held, and Trump said last week, It will be a total denuclearization, which has already started taking place. Assuming denuclearization of North Korea does take place, what would it look like and how much would it cost?

Im not going to argue with you, the flight attendant can be heard in video of the encounter. Rodgers insisted that she complied with the request but was still told she would be booted from the flight.

Woman Claims Flight Attendant Kicked Her Off Flight in Airplane Mode Dispute

5 people thrown off plane at Fort Wayne airport after dispute with Delta flight attendant

Bus full of campers overturns on NJ Turnpike in Cherry Hill

A school bus carrying about two dozen children crashed and overturned on the New Jersey Turnpike. No serious injuries have been reported.

Police: 18 Suffer Minor Injuries In School Bus Accident In Cherry Hill

School Bus With Childen Overturns On NJ Turnpike In Cherry Hill

ICE Director Erroneously Blames Congress For Family Separation Policy

The acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Friday perpetuated President Donald Trumps lie that Congress is responsible for the Trump administrations zero tolerance policy of separating young, undocumented immigrant children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. If the American public wants to know who to blame for family separations, the first people they need to blame is Congress, Thomas Homan said on Fox & Friends, in an interview before his retirement on Friday. In recent weeks, Trump has falsely blamed Congress, particularly Democrats, for the border separations despite his administrations decision to embark on the policy, part of an aggressive anti-immigration push that officials have called a zero tolerance enforcement of immigration laws at the border.

March To Protest Immigrant Family Separation In Jackson Heights

After Trumps immigration policy sparks anger and hurt, Hoosiers plan downtown march

There are tons of new cars out there for the 2018 model year. Here are the best ones weve driven so far. From Road & Track

Journalists around the nation are reeling after a lone gunman attacked a Maryland newsroom on Thursday, making it the deadliest day for the profession since Sept. 11, 2001. A suspect is in custody following the shooting at the Capital Gazette office in Annapolis. A reporter who was in the newsroom at the time said the gunman shot through a glass door before opening fire on the reporters colleagues, killing at least five people and injuring several more. Prior to Thursdays attack, at least 32 journalists and media staff had been killed in the U.S. since 1990, according to the International Federation of Journalists.

Police: Newspaper gunman worked methodically, blocked exit

Gunman kills at least five in targeted attack at Maryland newspaper

Manslaughter charge: Georgia officer shot fleeing black man

A white Georgia police officer accused of fatally shooting a black man had only been on the job a year and a half. Kingsland Police Officer Zechariah Presley surrendered Wednesday after the Georgia Bureau of Investigation obtained a warrant for his arrest on the charge of manslaughter. The killing has enraged family and friends of the dead man Anthony Marcel Green in the small town of Kingsland near the border with Florida where the shooting occurred.

From a roller-coaster ride named after Slinky Dog to a food area based on a lunch box, heres what you can expect at Toy Story Land. For example, the yellow ball with a blue stripe and red star is a classic staple of Toy Story and Pixar. The rides offer a kids take on Toy Story Land, such as the illustration visitors can see here while boarding a ride.

Somebody bought $1 million worth of toys for local kids as Toys R Us closed for good

Toy Story Land Is Opening This Weekend Heres Everything You Need to Know

Heres What Could Happen to Roe v. Wade and Abortion Rights After Justice Kennedys Retirement

Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedys retirement announcement on Wednesday sparked immediate questions about the future of abortion rights in the United States. Kennedy, who was a pivotal swing vote in some of the most controversial rulings of the past 30 years, consistently upheld abortion rights during his tenure. Theres every reason to believe that Roe v. Wade is on the chopping block, said University of Chicago law professor Justin Driver, who clerked for Supreme Court Justices Stephen Breyer and Sandra Day OConnor.

Trump says he plans to name Supreme Court nominee on July 9

Senate kicks off battle over Trumps court pick

School Bus Overturns on Jersey Turnpike

A school bus carrying several children crashed and overturned on the New Jersey Turnpike. No serious injuries have been reported. (June 29)

Police: 18 Suffer Minor Injuries In School Bus Accident In Cherry Hill

School Bus With Childen Overturns On NJ Turnpike In Cherry Hill

Trump SCOTUS pick should be grilled about Mueller probe before their rear end hits the chair, says top Dem strategist

Trumps policy is inhumane. It is not the same as 1942.

Latest From the Blog

List of services-ليستەى خزمەتگوزارى

Social Media Marketing-تۆڕە كۆمەڵايەتييەكان

Search Engine Optimization-بەدوا بگەڕە

Awesome header and title style variations and many more.

The Yoast Analytics plugin lets you easily connect your website to Google Analytics and keep track of all your site traffic and key metrics in real-time.

Investigationes demonstraverunt lectores legere me lius quod ii legunt saepius est etiam processus dynamicus.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, duis metus ligula amet in purus, vitae donec vestibulum enim, tincidunt massa sit, convallis ipsum.

Discover More About Our SEO Expertise!

is about bringing customers through your doors.

Ut wisi enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exerci tation ullamcorper suscipit lobortis nisl ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat eleifend option.

An effective social strategy can help you grow your business, maintain your social presence and engage with the audience.

We create tailored marketing campaigns for each segment of your audience to help advertise products and services in efforts to efficiently and effectively engage new customers.

Pay Per Click has an instant impact and gives your brand a much larger reach and exposure as a result of first page exposure on major search engines.

Recent Trends Should Guide How Businesses Grow Local Search Strategies How can brick-and-mortar stores improve the online experience for both users and search engines

Content Mapping, Search Optimization And The Buyers Journey

Claritas est etiam processus dynamicus, qui sequitur mutationem consuetudium lectorum.

Investigationes demonstraverunt lectores legere me lius quod ii legunt saepius notare.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit, sed diam nonummy nibh euismod.

Investigationes demonstraverunt lectores legere.

Dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit.

Nam liber tempor cum soluta nobis eleifend.

Eodem modo typi, qui nunc nobis videntur parum.

Google Search Console releases URL inspection tool

Ranking factors session recap from SMX Advanced 2018

How to take advantage of strategic PPC audience targeting

Google local pack business categories

Google begins sending goodbye old AdWords UI notices

Googles Chrome browser will mark non-HTTPS sites as not secure

Parsing pages: Is it better to update or remove thin content?

YouTube SEO: How to find the best traffic-generating keywords

Enterprise Call Analytics Platforms: A Marketers Guide updated for 2018

Getting it done: how to overcome common link building blockers

Mobile Ads with AdWords: 6 Tips for Fantastic Mobile Search Ads

Any questions youve ever asked yourself about URLs and SEO and the answers

DSGVO and SEA: Thats changing with AdWords and AdSense

The first 6 steps to start and promote your new website

Optimized store landing pages: An important part of local search strategy

Content Mapping, Search Optimization And The Buyers Journey

Sign up for new Seosight content, updates, surveys & offers.

Qolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit, sed diam nonummy nibham liber tempor cum soluta nobis eleifend option congue nihil uarta decima et quinta. Ut wisi enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exerci tation ullamcorper suscipit lobortis nisl ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat eleifend option nihil. Investigationes demonstraverunt lectores legere me lius quod ii legunt saepius parum claram.