5 Reasons to Avoid LegalZoom for your Arkansas Bankruptcy

Avoid LegalZoom

The Flynn Law Firm wouldn’t be the first bankruptcy lawyer to look questionably at, and advise you to avoid, LegalZoom, an Internet-based legal services company offering low rates for seemingly complete services.

You’ll see the media in general treat LegalZoom as a Silicon Valley doll beloved by all, allowing Main Street Americans to access cheap legal services without the help of an expensive licensed dinosaur known as a living, breathing, attorney.

But I find it critical to my clients to understand why LegalZoom is NOT your resource for bankruptcy proceedings and why you should avoid LegalZoom like the plague for such critical, Federal level matters.

 

  1. LegalZoom engages in UPL—unauthorized practice of law. Under Arkansas state law, simply checking to ensure that forms are prepared properly is work that can only be performed in a licensed lawyer’s office, no matter how simple. This is of course the least motivating argument, but there is good reason for this in regards to a bankruptcy case. Bankruptcy is a federal level filing with very specific timelines and intricacies that you have one shot at getting correct. Why avoid LegalZoom? There is no professional to understand your unique needs, your unique story and to understand what is most important to you to protect. A great attorney can assist you in choosing what chapter to file under and exactly how to set up the filing documents to best represent your situation. LegalZoom offers standard, cut and paste documents – that is all they are legally allowed to offer.
  2. LegalZoom Profits at Your Expense. BuzzFeed ran an article detailing LegalZoom’s foray into student debt relief recently, specifically enrolling debtors in federal income-based repayment programs. These programs are free for debtors to enroll in, but LegalZoom is charging as much as $699 to help debtors enroll in these programs and complete the paperwork for them. The cost is similar to what shadier debt relief companies charge. “The forms LegalZoom fills out are available online for free, and are intended to be filled out by students themselves. The consultation they provide is supposed to be offered, for free, by student loan servicing companies, who are paid by the Education Department to counsel borrowers on their repayment options.” you can read the full article here on BuzzFeed. This is what they charge for paperwork that is free! Is this the sort of company you want to trust your finances too? Update: LegalZoom must have received the message loud and clear because now all links to their program take you to the home page of the site.
  3. LegalZoom does not stand by their documents. At the end of the TV ad for LegalZoom there is a warning “Legalzoom is not a law firm or a substitute for the advice of an attorney and provides self-help services at your specific direction. Attorney help is through a legal plan available in most states.” It is hard to read against the background and only takes 3 seconds for the voiceover to finish saying, but what does it mean? “at your specific direction.” This means that you are responsible to know the specific law or laws related to you unique situation Bankruptcy situation. If you guess wrong on the law then you cannot sue Legalzoom because they have warned you, “LegalZoom is not a law firm”. This means they are providing legal advice, but do not want to back up that advice with a promise as to the credibility or accuracy of that information. At the bottom of every blog is,
  4. Automation of legal document completion (LegalZip® software) is not fool proof. Mistakes can occur, resulting in liabilities. Did I mention you get just one chance to file your Federal Bankruptcy in most cases? One chance to make sure every paragraph details out what needs to be done specific to your case. Do not trust your future financial picture to a piece of software that depends on your accuracy and lack of legal knowledge.
  5. Customer Service is Near Zilch. Why avoid LegalZoom? Over the last three years, LegalZoom has received over 280 complaints to the Better Business Bureau. That is over 280 customers who were so frustrated with the customer service provided directly through LegalZoom that they had exhausted, felt the need to explain to the BBB what the issue was directly.  The number one reason to avoid LegalZoom is the ability to get a human on the phone to handle your important legal needs. Your bankruptcy is not one simple document. I’ve had some that are 100’s of pages. At Flynn Law Firm we stand by all of our documents and you will always be able to get in touch with our office to answer your questions in a timely manner.

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