Rocket Lawyer was created for a purpose. We make the law affordable and simple. Our site combines do-it-yourself legal documents, legal information and access to affordable legal representation by licensed attorneys. Should you choose to do-it-yourself, a key ingredient in our formula is making these projects free. This includes free Last Wills and Incorporations among thousands of other free do it yourself legal documents.
Unfortunately, one business in the legal industry has elected to litigate, instead of innovate. LegalZoom filed a surprise lawsuit, just before the Thanksgiving holiday, seeking to reduce competition and choice in online legal services. We are fighting back for you — the consumer, and have just filed an answer to their lawsuit. We will continue bringing you the online legal services that you need.
Most small businesses and individuals simply can’t afford the cost of traditional legal services. As a result, about half of individuals don’t even have a basic last will and testament. Out of the 30 million businesses operating in the United States, fewer than 20 percent are incorporated. Without a valid Will, family legacies are left at the mercy of the state, and without a corporation to shield them, entrepreneurs can and do lose everything. Free legal documents can protect families who otherwise might go without the benefits of the law, and a do-it-yourself Incorporation can reduce the legal and financial risks of entrepreneurship. Free access to the basic tools of our legal system can both shield us and provide greater chances for success in the modern economy.
Rocket Lawyer helps tens of thousands of businesses incorporate; in addition, more than a million legal documents are created every month on our site, most of them at no cost to anyone but us. As a result, we have grown into the most widely used legal service of this kind in the world in just a few years. In fact, according to the independent web analytics firm, Compete.com, many more people use Rocket Lawyer per month than our competitor, LegalZoom.
In response to such rapid growth of free and affordable alternatives to traditionally high priced legal services, LegalZoom has filed a lawsuit. They cry: “false and misleading advertising!”, “unfair competition!” and “trademark infringement!” It is a shame that rather than focusing on making their own service better, LegalZoom has elected to waste our collective time and resources. Not only are these charges false, they also represent the worst type of abuse of our overburdened legal system.
Our commitment to affordable and accessible legal services is in keeping with the legal profession’s record of providing free (pro-bono) legal assistance. Most attorneys and bar associations agree that much more can, and should, be done to improve access to the law by reducing cost and complexity. According to an American Bar Association survey, 66 percent of U.S. attorneys provide pro-bono legal assistance. This is especially true in cases involving low income families, individuals and non-profit organizations.
So, while LegalZoom has fired off a lawsuit in an attempt to hinder the availability of the free alternatives for justice that consumers seek, again, we choose to fight back and continue the drive toward greater access to the law for all, regardless of ability to pay. When we prevail, the way forward to the democratization of the legal system will be clear.
Here is how Rocket Lawyer actually works. Anyone can create and keep a free legal document without giving us any form of payment — period. For incorporations, you can do it yourself, free of any processing fees, although you will have to pay the government, à la “death and taxes.” We combine thousands of pages of free legal information, plus instructional audio and video streaming, with do-it-yourself documents and access to a network of attorneys who have agreed to work online and at a discount. The addition of legal counsel from licensed attorneys allows members to opt for do-it-with-me and do-it-for-me services. Our staff and independent attorney community are always “here to help.”
During an unpaid free trial, members have access to: a free document, our legal health tools, and a free initial consultation with a lawyer. Basic and Pro Legal Plan members (consumers and businesses respectively) gain access to unlimited documents complete with legal reviews, sharing and e-signing, and deeply discounted representation from local attorneys.
We spread the word, via advertising, about our free, do-it-yourself documents. We are proud of the fact that we do not charge any extra legal fees for a do-it-yourself Incorporation, and we always note that state filing fees will still have to be paid, like taxes, where applicable.
We have chosen to fight for you because every day we see how much of a positive difference our website and our On Call attorneys make in the world. We will defend our ability to ensure that you have access to the many free services that are available to you through Rocket Lawyer. We have asked the Court to affirm our view and we know that at the end of the day, it will.
We didn’t pick this fight, but we have learned that in addition to attempting to reduce your options with a frivolous lawsuit, LegalZoom engages in deceptive conduct that includes the use of affiliated websites. We have detailed all of this in our response to their lawsuit. With this post, we choose to focus on what we do best – helping consumers and small businesses with their real legal needs.
At Rocket Lawyer, comparison information about our services and those of our competitors is published for all to see. We give you the pros and cons and let you decide for yourself. This is the right way to earn your business, and hopefully your trust.
If you have taken the time to read all of this, we thank you. Best wishes for your business and your family. We look forward to being here when you need us.
Founder and Executive Chairman, Rocket Lawyer