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LegalZoom vs Nolo Comparison
Written by: Carolyn Young
Carolyn Young is a business writer who focuses on entrepreneurial concepts and the business formation. She has over 25 years of experience in business roles, and has authored several entrepreneurship textbooks.
Edited by: David Lepeska
David has been writing and learning about business, finance and globalization for a quarter-century, starting with a small New York consulting firm in the 1990s.
Published on September 3, 2022
Updated on September 30, 2023
Establishing a business entity is an essential step in starting a business. Given its intricate and sometimes tiresome nature, numerous entrepreneurs enlist a professional to ensure it’s done correctly. These business formation services frequently offer extra services beneficial for new business owners.
Among the top online providers to evaluate are LegalZoom and Nolo. To aid you in deciding which is superior and potentially better suited to you and your business, we have conducted a comprehensive review of their services, adopting an entrepreneur’s perspective.
Continue reading to select the service that will set your business on the path to success.
After a thorough assessment, we have determined that LegalZoom is a better choice than Nolo. LegalZoom’s plans offer more services, and their customer service is far superior to Nolo’s.
LegalZoom’s site is much easier to navigate, and Nolo’s reviews were troubling. Finally, LegalZoom is widely known as a trusted industry leader, so they receive our recommendation.
Help and Support
Ease of Use
Help and Support
Ease of Use
We’ve chosen LegalZoom as a better option due to their value provided, superior customer service, and site usability.
Pros and Cons
- Reputable and reliable services
- Local attorneys available in all 50 states
- Great customer support
- Quick and easy purchase process
- Variety of legal services and documents available to business owners
- Registered agent service cost is higher compared to competitors
- Too many upsells when signing up
- Slow turnaround time
- Multiple package selections
- Competitively-priced Basic Package
- Use of plain language
- DIY guides and support
- Quick and easy online formation and purchase process
- Information is difficult to find
- Limited a la carte services for business formation
- Limited methods of contact for support
- Website is not intuitive and has poor usability
- Many negative customer reviews, mainly re customer service
- Cancellation can be a confusing process
Plans and Pricing – Winner: LegalZoom
LegalZoom offers an initial $0 LLC package, but the continual upselling may become costly and cumbersome. Moreover, none of their formation packages come with a registered agent service, which is an add-on service priced at $249 annually.
Priced at $49, Nolo’s Basic package offers essential LLC formation services and presents a good value option for entrepreneurs on a budget.
The Standard package, although more costly at $149, includes additional services such as EIN tax ID application preparation and a variety of business forms.
However, the Express package, priced significantly higher at $299, mainly justifies its cost for businesses needing immediate LLC formation, as its primary advantage is rush filing, offering no additional value over the Standard package.
Experience – Winner: LegalZoom
Having served more than 3.5 million customers since 2001, with approximately half being business clients, LegalZoom has extensive experience in this field.
Nolo was founded in 1971 and, since its early beginnings, has been assisting individuals who couldn’t afford legal advice and support. While we couldn’t determine the exact number of businesses they’ve helped form, we found that they’ve sold over 1.7 million products, some of which are business formation packages.
Customer Support – Winner: LegalZoom
They provide support via phone, chat, and email. Overall all three channels have quick responses with polite and professional customer service representatives. Customer support is available on weekends as well, from 7am to 4pm PT.
Nolo offers two channels of support: phone and email. We tested both and found that phone support is much more effective than email, as we received a response from a Nolo representative 20 days after sending our email.
Turnaround Times – It’s a tie between the two
LegalZoom’s processing times depend on the package chosen, not the state of formation. For their premium package, finalized business formation documents could be received within 7–10 business days. Still, more economical packages could take up to 30 business days (or six weeks).
Nolo will process and file your documents with the state within 4–5 business days if you purchase the Basic or Standard package and within a day if you buy their top-tier plan. However, the turnaround time depends on the state and can take, on average, up to 3 weeks.
Customer Reviews – Winner: LegalZoom
We found over 9,000 reviews on BBB and Trustpilot, with a significant portion being positive. Happy customers frequently mentioned LegalZoom’s services’ convenience and user-friendliness.
From a few hundred reviews we could find online, many were extremely negative.
Ease of Use – Winner: LegalZoom
LegalZoom provides a streamlined approach to LLC formation, reducing the complexity of the DIY route. Their platform is well-designed, with intuitive steps, making it easier for business owners to navigate through the process and set up their operations effectively. LegalZoom also has upsells during the formation process, so make sure you choose only what you need.
Overall, we didn’t find Nolo’s website to be very intuitive or easy to use since LLC information can be difficult to find. You have the option to sign up for a free account on the site, though Nolo’s login page gives the impression that it’s only for lawyers or those seeking to tackle the business formation process themselves.
Additional Services – Winner: LegalZoom
In comparing LegalZoom and Nolo, it becomes clear that each has distinct offerings beyond their comparable services. Nolo, for instance, stands out for its comprehensive collection of legal books and online documents, which makes it a great resource for self-education in legal matters.
Conversely, LegalZoom goes beyond basic business formation services by offering features such as trademark registration, copyright application, and patent services. This breadth of services in the field of intellectual property protection makes LegalZoom a versatile choice for businesses in need of legal assistance beyond their formation.
Using a business formation service to start your LLC frees you up to focus on growing your business. These services handle the filing process for you and offer additional services that can make life easier for a new business owner.
When assessing whether or not a business formation service is right for you, it’s important to dive into the following four categories: included features, customer service, pricing, and turnaround time.
Nolo offers three business formation plans, and their website is known for presenting one of the most extensive repositories of free legal information written in plain language that everyone can understand. Nolo is a great resource to turn to for information and assistance when forming your LLC.
To learn more about the customer experience at a particular business formation service, check out the reviews and ratings on the Better Business Bureau and Trustpilot websites.
LegalZoom vs Nolo Comparison
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