Part 1: Online Legal Services v. Attorneys
Texas Single Member LLC Formation
Disclaimer: This blog series is based on my personal experience with Legal Zoom in late 2015. I did not actually pay Legal Zoom, and so I did not receive final documents to review. As such, this is not a discussion of the content of the documents. My observations are based on the forms and information they request to build those documents. This blog should not be considered legal advice.
I have been curious for a long time to see what the actual cost is for Legal Zoom to draft some of the most common legal documents I use in my practice. I used Legal Zoom because it is the resource most frequently cited by clients and prospective clients.
Here is the not too surprising result of my experience with online legal documents: these companies are going to try to up-sell you on nearly every single aspect of starting your business. Legal Zoom makes it very clear from the beginning they are not offering legal advice. You can pay them extra to receive actual advice from lawyers (who are predominantly very recent graduates from a single firm), but this is not included in the base rate of their products. You also pay significantly more to match the turnaround time of a good attorney. The base rate has a turn around time of 30 days. To match the attorney time frame you must pay them $210 more.
Legal Zoom Estimated Attorney Cost*
Texas State Filing Fee $300 $300
Registered Agent Fee $89 $0
Company Documents (7-10 days) $359 $500
Company Minutes $280 $200
Access to Attorney for questions $29/hr (2 hrs) Included
Tax ID Number Set Up $80 $0 (free to set up online)
TOTALS $1137 $1000
Legal Zoom wants to be your registered agent at a fee of $159.00 per year. That is not too far off the market rate for registered agent services, but if you live in Texas, and privacy is not a large concern, you can be your own agent. Legal Zoom does not promote this option, and it shows, as a large percentage of its customers chose Legal Zoom as their agent. Tax ID set up is also very straightforward once your attorney points you in the right direction, and can be completed in around ten minutes.
The key difference in my opinion between Legal Zoom and a knowledgeable attorney is that your attorney is going to explain how and why the process works, and also teach you about the process as it applies to your specific business you so you feel confident that you have made the right choices for your new company.
* Costs may vary based on the complexity of the entity and other factors. For a quote or more information about entity formation and other business matters, contact Lauren at Lauren@SchoenbaumFirm.com.