Pioneering US legal services business LegalZoom is planning to launch in the UK next year, Legal Futures can reveal.
Senior management are in the UK this week to view possible headquarters for the operation, which since 2001 has provided online legal documents and has been described as the most recognised legal brand in America.
Co-founder Eddie Hartman, who is also president of attorney services, told Legal Futures that the company is “deep into the planning stages” of its UK entry, with the hope of bringing them to fruition in the next six to 12 months.
However, he emphasised that LegalZoom was taking its time to understand the UK’s legal culture. “We have to pay close attention to what the UK customer wants – we are still working out what that is,” he said.
Mr Hartman said regulatory restrictions in the US allowed LegalZoom “to go so far and no further”. He continued: “The UK is today an environment where one can give more value to the consumer and soon, with alternative business structures, offer far more.
“Further, most attorneys in the US are happy with the status quo. What’s exciting about the UK is that many lawyers are challenging the status quo and embracing change… There are people willing to think differently and reimagine the offering of legal services.”
The company is still considering how it might structure its UK offering. In the US, consumers complete a legal document online and LegalZoom staff check it for completeness, consistency and common mistakes. Though consumers can print their documents out, LegalZoom also posts every document produced and provides an online storage service.
For customers who subscribe to the service (rather than just buying one-off documents), LegalZoom has introduced the option of a free lawyer review too, with consumers paying more if they want further advice from the lawyer.
Mr Hartman said it was free for lawyers to sign up to provide services through the site, but that LegalZoom checks and monitors them rigorously, meeting them face to face when they join, allowing consumers to rate the services they receive, and showing all the lawyers in the network each other’s ratings.
Earlier this year LegalZoom received private equity investment of $66m and there is regular speculation that the company is preparing to go public.
Last week Legal Futures revealed that another US online legal document business, Rocket Lawyer, plans to enter the UK market next year.