Nolo has a long history of working with small business owners. Nolo has been in business far longer than most of the LLC services companies on the market. Nolo does not specialize in business formation services alone. Instead, they offer a wide variety of legal services, including legal forms, business entity formation and legal assistance.
Nolo actually started out as Nolo Press in 1971, a book publisher that specialized in legal self-help books. In recent years, they shifted to focus on offering online legal forms and Nolo legal services help many people find legal solutions entirely on the Internet.
Like some of the other sites we’ve reviewed, such as Rocket Lawyer and LegalZoom, Nolo is a general legal services operation. This means that they do not have the same level of expertise as a site that specializes in LLC formation and services for LLC owners. It also means that Nolo outsources many of their services to partner companies. However, their general legal focus means that Nolo offers many services beyond LLC formation.
Our Review of Nolo’s LLC Services
As with most of the services that we review, Nolo offers several different packages of LLC formation services at varying price points. The service packages they offer include Basic, Standard, and Express options. All of the packages include forming your LLC with the state, so you will pay state fees in addition to the listed prices.
Warning! If you don’t live or do business in the state where Nolo forms your LLC, you’ll need to register your LLC as a Foreign LLC in your home state. This means you need to maintain two LLC filings, pay two state filing fees, and maintain two Registered Agents.
Please see Best state to form an LLC to make sure you’re forming an LLC in the right state.
As the name suggests, the Basic package is the most affordable Nolo package at $49 plus state fees. The Basic package includes the bare minimum: a business name check and the completion and filing of the Articles of Organization with the state. Of course, you can add many optional services to this package for extra fees.
The Standard package costs $149 plus state fees. It includes the Basic package elements: business name check and filing Articles of Organization with the state.
Additionally, the Standard package includes:
- Employer Identification Number (EIN)
Nolo will request an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for you through the IRS website. However, you can easily get an EIN for an LLC yourself in just a few minutes – and an EIN is free from the IRS. So this isn’t a significant benefit, cost-wise.
- 30 Legal Document Templates
The selection of legal forms offered with the Standard package can be useful, since Nolo gives you templates for common documents like sales contracts and non-disclosure agreements. However, it’s easy to find business document templates online for free, and if you need documents specifically crafted for your business you should retain a qualified attorney instead of trying to do it yourself.
The Express package is Nolo’s premium offering. This package is priced at $299, and includes the business name check, Articles of Organization filing, obtaining an EIN, and the document templates from the other two packages.
The Express package, as the name implies, includes both rush processing by Nolo and rush processing from your state. Note that the $299 price does not include state fees, including the additional fee charged by your state for expedited processing. The amount charged by states for expedited processing varies widely. We explain this in more detail here: How much does it cost to start an LLC?
The only additional feature included in the Express package besides expedited processing is a personalized corporate kit and seal. Nolo’s corporate kit includes a binder with your business’ name on it and a personalized seal for stamping documents. These items are not necessary for you to run your business, and are just flashy extras.
If you want to order a business seal or other stationery items, we recommend Moo.com. You can design and fully customize everything you order from Moo.com, unlike the bundled items through Nolo’s partners.
Nolo offers slower turnaround times than their competitors across the board. In fact, this is one of the biggest negatives about their LLC services, as quick turnaround times are important for many entrepreneurs.
If you choose the Basic or Standard service packages, Nolo claims that they will file your Articles of Organization within four to five business days. This is slower than most of their competitors. (In comparison, many other LLC formation sites will process your filing within one or two business days without requiring you to pay for expedited processing.)
If you purchase the expensive Express Package, Nolo claims that they will process your order and submit your Articles of Organization to your state within one business day.
Nolo offers numerous optional products and services, known as “upsells,” throughout the LLC services order process. It can be very distracting and irritating when Nolo offers upsells multiple times as you try to place an LLC formation services order. We were particularly displeased that when we declined two upsells (the Operating Agreement and Registered Agent service), Nolo made us re-confirm that decline in a popup.
We analyzed the most popular upsells Nolo offers during the online LLC formation process.
One of Nolo’s most useful upsells shouldn’t really be an upsell at all. For $50, Nolo will create an Operating Agreement for your LLC. An Operating Agreement specifies how your company will be run after it is formed. While it’s nice that Nolo completes the Operating Agreement for you, instead of just providing a template, we think $50 is pretty expensive.
Tip: You can easily download a free LLC Operating Agreement template and complete it yourself at home.
Nolo offers a business license service for $100. If you purchase this upsell, Nolo contracts Business Licenses LLC (another company) to research what business licenses and permits your LLC needs to operate in your state.
While that price is average for the industry, we don’t like that Nolo sends your information to another company to do this research. You can learn more about business licenses and permits by checking out our state LLC guides.
If you need help with license or permit research, we recommend using IncFile, where you can get a more comprehensive service directly from IncFile for $99.
Accounting Service Referral
Nolo also offers accounting services through another partner company, 1-800Accountant. This service costs $170 per year and includes various tax preparation and bookkeeping services. Most competitors that offer this service charge about the same amount.
We recommend finding a trusted accountant on your own to help with LLC taxes. Read our guide on How to find an accountant for more advice.
Nolo also offers website creation and hosting. As you might have guessed, Nolo does not run this service themselves. Instead, they contract it out to web.com. The price for this service is $135 per year. This pricing is about average for similar services offered by competitors.
However, we don’t like these bundled services. You usually end up paying more for website hosting and design with these packages instead of doing it yourself. And you don’t have as much control over the specific features and look of your site. We have a step-by-step guide to getting a business domain name that can help you get started.
Dense and Confusing Language
Another area in which Nolo falls short is the language used on their website. Nolo’s terms of service are written in legalese, making them very difficult to understand. Even worse, Nolo’s terms of service do not include any specific references to its LLC formation services. This makes it confusing if you’re trying to figure out exactly what you get from a certain package or product Nolo offers.
It can also be problematic that Nolo uses partner companies for a lot of services, because your use of those services are run according to the other companies’ terms of service. This means that you have to read multiple long documents written in legal jargon.
Nolo’s customer service is one of its strong suits. While some customer reviews on the Internet criticize Nolo’s customer service, we tried it out for ourselves and had a positive experience.
The only real drawback of Nolo’s customer service is that they do not offer chat support. Their phone support, however, is excellent.
The rep we spoke to over the phone was knowledgeable and helpful. They went the extra mile to answer all of the questions we had. They were also very honest and straightforward about the relevant fees. The rep did not try to upsell any products or services, which is something that we have experienced when contacting the competitors’ customer service reps.
Hate calling customer support? Hire Northwest instead. They have great prices ($39 + state fee) and they do things right the first time, so you don't even have to experience their award-winning customer support. ;)
(Read our Northwest Registered Agent review to see why we're confident that you're in good hands.)
Nolo offers a slick and streamlined user experience, which is exactly what we would expect from such a popular website. It should only take 15-30 minutes for you to complete your LLC formation order through the site.
To form an LLC through Nolo, you must provide basic information like the number of members and employees your business will have, as well as the state in which you would like the business to be registered.
We like that Nolo uses graphics to help illustrate their survey questions and make it easier to understand.
Nolo will save your information for up to 90 days if you do not want to complete your LLC formation in one sitting. When you return to complete your order, you can pick up right where you left off.
Nolo’s Registered Agent Services
- Learn more: What’s an LLC Registered Agent?
For $149 per year, Nolo offers a Registered Agent service which ensures that all of the service of process mail (legal documents sent to your business) will be received and catalogued. As with many of Nolo’s services, their Registered Agent service is actually outsourced to a different company called Vcorp Services.
If you were to hire Vcorp Services directly as your Registered Agent, they would charge you $115 per year. But if you purchase through Nolo, you will pay $149. Vcorp’s $115 price point is about average for the industry, while Nolo’s marked-up price point of $149 is well above the industry average.
Unlike some other Registered Agents, Vcorp does not forward documents via mail. Instead, they scan any legal documents they receive and email you digital copies. The documents will also be available through Vcorp’s online portal. In addition to the emails of your business’ legal mail, Vcorp can also send you reminders regarding your state’s annual report deadlines.
If you’re looking for a trustworthy Registered Agent service that can help you with business formation and other LLC services, we recommend Northwest Registered Agent. They have clear, honest pricing and don’t outsource their services to other companies.
Nolo LLC Review Summary
We don’t believe Nolo is a good choice for LLC services or Registered Agent services. Their LLC services are too expensive, and their confusing website language makes us hesitate. Also, they use partner companies for many services, which means you have to learn the terms of service for multiple firms. Similarly, Nolo’s Registered Agent services are too expensive and are also outsourced.
Nolo’s LLC formation service packages offer fewer services than most of the packages offered by competitors. However, Nolo does offer good customer service and a larger platform of legal services. Their website is easy to navigate, and if you need a wide variety of business services, Nolo might be a good choice for your LLC.
However, we would recommend that you go with one of the firms that specialize in LLC formation services. These firms often offer lower price points, quicker turnaround times, and more useful service packages than general legal service sites. Additionally, companies that specialize in LLC formation will rarely outsource as many services as Nolo does.
Matt holds a Bachelor's Degree in business from Drexel University with a concentration in business law. He performs extensive research and analysis to convert state laws into simple instructions anyone can follow to form their LLC - all for free! Read more about Matt Horwitz and LLC University.