Nolo vs LegalZoom

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Are you deciding between Nolo and LegalZoom for Limited Liability Company (LLC) formation? We know, it can be confusing. But don’t worry! Read our helpful comparison guide below, to learn which company is the best for you.

LLC service providers all seem to offer the same services, but is price the only thing you should consider? We think user experience, including friendliness of website language and customer support, are really important too. That’s why we tried out their websites to see what it’s like to start your LLC with Nolo or LegalZoom, and we called their customer support teams multiple times to help you select the best company to form your LLC.

If you’re looking for a big company that offers extra services, is it better to choose Nolo or LegalZoom? We compared Nolo vs LegalZoom on 10 different features of their business formation services.

Winner: Nolo is the winner over LegalZoom, but not by much. Both these companies spread themselves too thin by offering a huge list of services. And both have high prices, with confusing language that can be misleading.

Is Nolo the best? We think there are better companies out there. Check out our Best LLC Services page. Our favorite LLC formation company is Northwest Registered Agent.

About Nolo

Nolo logo
The Nolo logo is a registered trademark of Nolo.

Nolo has a long history (since 1971) of working with small business owners. Nolo does not specialize in business formation services alone. Instead, they offer a wide variety of legal services, including legal documents, business entity formation and legal assistance.

In recent years, Nolo shifted to focus on offering online legal forms and helping people find legal solutions on the Internet. Nolo’s size and variety of services means that Nolo offers many features beyond LLC formation services.

Want to learn more about Nolo?

Read more about all the services they offer in our Nolo LLC Review.

About LegalZoom

Legal Zoom LLC Review Logo

LegalZoom is an online legal technology company that offers a wide variety of legal services, including business formation services. According to their website, LegalZoom was founded in 1999 and has launched over 4 million businesses.

LegalZoom offers LLC formation packages that include various documents as well as other legal services like legal forms templates and consultations with attorneys. While LegalZoom is a large company, they don’t always get the best customer reviews.

Want to learn more about LegalZoom?

Read more about their services in our LegalZoom LLC Review.

LLC Formation Services: Nolo vs. LegalZoom

The Basic LLC Package: What do you get?

We compared the features offered in the basic LLC formation package at each company. What else do you get besides the actual Articles of Organization filing with the state?

Nolo

The Basic LLC formation service package includes a name search and filing your Articles of Organization with the state. Nothing else.

LegalZoom

The basic package (called “Economy”) includes a customized Operating Agreement, and a financial account authorization letter. It doesn’t include a year of Registered Agent service; you will have to pay $249 for that.

Winner: LegalZoom offers more features in the basic package.

Pricing

Note: None of the prices below include the state LLC filing fees.

Nolo

Nolo offers the Basic package for $49, the Standard package for $149, and the Express package for $299.

Nolo offers 3 LLC formation packages: Express, Standard, and Basic.

The Basic package is more expensive than other competitors’ bare-bones offerings. While the Standard package includes templates for some legal documents, it still isn’t good value for money. The main focus of the Express package is expedited filing, but it’s pretty expensive compared to other similar services out there.

LegalZoom

LegalZoom offers the Economy package for $79, the Standard package for $329, and the Express Gold package for $349.

Legal Zoom LLC Review LLC Packages

The Economy package is an okay value for business formation, but we really can’t justify the high prices for the Standard and Express Gold packages. Both get your LLC approved a little bit faster, and offer some extras (read the full description of each package in our LegalZoom review). However, the extras aren’t necessary to start your business, and you can get them cheaper with other companies, or you can do it yourself.

Winner: Nolo is cheaper, although neither company has competitive pricing.

LLC Service Turnaround Time

Nolo

Nolo takes 4-5 business days to file your documents. If you pay extra for the Express package, they will file your documents the same day you send them.

LegalZoom

Despite being a big company, LegalZoom doesn’t offer very fast business formation turnaround time. Your documents will be filed within 1-2 weeks of purchasing LegalZoom’s LLC service.

If you pay extra for the Express Gold package, LegalZoom will process your documents within 2-3 days. You can also pay extra for the state expedited processing, and get your LLC faster.

Winner: Nolo has faster turnaround times.

Upsells: Add-ons vs Subscriptions

Nolo

Nolo offers a variety of upsells, which are advertised in a distracting, interrupting way.

Most of these extras aren’t worth the price, and are things you can do at home for free. Nolo offers legal documents like Operating Agreements and contracts, but they are templates you will have to use on your own.

Nolo also offers an accounting “consultation”. However, we don’t recommend this service. This is often a way for companies to make more money (they sell your information to the accounting company). And more often than not, your “consultation” is really just a sales pitch.

Nolo pitches several additional services

LegalZoom

LegalZoom offers a ton of upsells, but bundles them into packages. This means you end up paying more for the LLC service you want, plus some extras you may not need. We don’t like that LegalZoom’s upsells are intrusive and sometimes need to be declined more than once to make them go away.

You’ll also be bombarded by offers for other subscriptions, like the Legal Protect Plan and Total Compliance package. Overall, LegalZoom has a lot of upsells during their business formation process and most of them aren’t worth the cost.

Legal Zoom LLC Review Total Compliance

Winner: This is a tie. Both companies have disruptive, annoying upsells that aren’t good value.

Language: Legal Jargon Everywhere

Nolo

Lots of Nolo’s website is written in legal jargon and is very dense and hard to understand. We got confused by their user agreements. And since they outsource a lot of services, we aren’t confident what we’re agreeing to with the other companies.

LegalZoom

LegalZoom’s website has a lot of fancy language to make their services sound like you can’t live without them. They hide a lot of important details about limitations of the services (in particular, the Legal Protect Plan has a lot of exclusions). And LegalZoom isn’t clear about how the pricing really works on their packages.

Winner: No one wins. Neither company is transparent about terms, and both use confusing language.

Customer Service: Honesty and the Extra Mile

Nolo

Nolo only offers phone support, but we were very pleased with the quality of customer service. The representatives were helpful, knowledgeable and gave us straight-forward honest information. They didn’t try to push upsells on us, and explained all the fees clearly.

LegalZoom

LegalZoom offers customer support by phone or online chat. But if you’re a new customer or just trying to get information, LegalZoom requires you to give them a lot of details about your business before they will even try to answer your questions.

We were disappointed to find that they were more interested in getting us to start the LLC formation process or to purchase online legal services, rather than helping us with our questions.

Winner: Nolo has better customer support.

User Experience: Streamlined Websites

Nolo

Nolo has a clean, streamlined user experience. Their LLC formation process does a great job of illustrating the questions so users can clearly understand what’s being asked. The website is professional and easy to navigate.

LegalZoom

LegalZoom offers a sleek, modern website design. However, it sends you through a lot of different pages to get the information you need. Also, the LLC formation process uses confusing layouts that make avoiding the upsells tricky.

Winner: Nolo wins for a more pleasant experience.

Additional Features and Offers

Nolo

We don’t like that Nolo sells your information to other companies for the accounting referral, website hosting, and business license research.

It’s better to choose your own accountant, and design a website through a service you trust.

LegalZoom

LegalZoom offers additional services, but most have a monthly fee (instead of a one-time purchase). For example, the Legal Forms library, the Legal Protect Plan, and the Total Compliance subscriptions.

These are expensive add-ons that LegalZoom describes as life-savers, but which actually have a lot of limitations. We don’t recommend spending your money on them.

Winner: No one wins. Neither company offers valuable additional features.

Legal Forms

If your business needs legal services, like drafts or templates for contracts and agreements, both Nolo and LegalZoom can help.

Nolo offers a Business Document Templates Library. The cost is $29.99.

LegalZoom offers a Legal Forms Library. The cost is $40 per month.

Winner: Nolo’s library is much better. The price is much cheaper and you get the actual document template, which can be used many times. On the other hand, LegalZoom requires you to complete a survey every time you want a form. And you can’t modify or re-use the LegalZoom document later.

Nolo vs LegalZoom: Registered Agent Services

Price Per Year

Nolo

Nolo charges $150 per year for Registered Agent services, which is slightly higher than average in the industry.

Nolo offers a Registered Agent service through Vcorp.

LegalZoom

LegalZoom charges $299 per year for Registered Agent service, which is one of the most expensive prices in the industry. In some states, LegalZoom discounts this price to $249 per year if you form your LLC with them. That’s still very expensive compared to the competitors.

LegalZoom Registered Agent service is $299/year

Winner: Nolo definitely has better prices.

Mail Forwarding and Service of Process

Nolo

Nolo’s Registered Agent service scans and emails any legal mail they receive for your LLC (including service of process). You can also access the documents in the Registered Agent online portal – but this is separate from your Nolo account dashboard.

LegalZoom

LegalZoom also scans and uploads legal mail sent to your LLC (including service of process). They also have an online dashboard where you can access your documents.

Winner: This is a tie, although we prefer LegalZoom since you don’t need to use a different company’s website.

Nolo vs LegalZoom: Who’s the winner?

When you compare Nolo vs LegalZoom, Nolo is the narrow winner.

Here’s why:

Nolo and LegalZoom tie on several features. Both companies have upsells that are disruptive and don’t offer good value. They also equally use confusing language and aren’t clear about package terms. And LegalZoom does come out on top in offering the most features in their basic package.

However, Nolo clearly outshines LegalZoom with customer support, faster turnaround times, and an overall more pleasant experience. Although neither company has competitive pricing when compared to other LLC formation companies, Nolo’s prices were better than LegalZoom’s. And Nolo has a much better document library that offers actual reusable templates, whereas LegalZoom requires you to get a new template every time.

Overall, Nolo offers a better experience than LegalZoom, but we recommend looking into competitors that specialize in LLC formation service. These companies often provide quicker turnaround times and more useful service packages at lower prices than general legal service sites – like LegalZoom or Nolo.

Is Nolo the best? We think there are better companies out there. Check out our Best LLC Services page. Our favorite LLC formation company is Northwest Registered Agent.

File yourself with our free LLC guides

If neither Nolo or LegalZoom seems like the right fit, and you want to save money, you can form your LLC yourself. And we can help!

At LLC University®, we offer step-by-step guides that teach you how to form your LLC yourself. You just pay the state filing fee.

Get started here: How to start an LLC in all 50 states

The Hybrid Approach: Hire Nolo and DIY the little things

And even if you do hire Nolo or LegalZoom to file your LLC, you can still save money in other ways. There are several upsells that you can skip and DIY instead:

Instead of paying for an LLC Operating Agreement, you can download our free LLC Operating Agreement template.

If you see an upsell for LLC Membership Certificates, you can skip it. We provide free LLC Membership Certificates here.

If you see an upsell for a Banking Resolution (aka financial account authorization letter), you can ignore it. This document isn’t actually needed to open an LLC business bank account. Banks will provide their own form.

If you’d rather not pay for someone to file your LLC Annual Report, you can do that yourself. Go to our LLC Annual Report page and select your state.

And you don’t have to hire someone to be your LLC’s Registered Agent. Instead, you can be the Registered Agent for your LLC. Check out our Registered Agent page for more details. All you need is a physical address in the state where you form your LLC. Being your own Registered Agent can save you more than $100 per year.

Matt Horwitz
Matt Horwitz
Founder & Educator, LLC University®
Matt Horwitz has been the leading expert on LLC education for the past decade. He founded LLC University in 2010 after realizing people needed simple and actionable instructions to start an LLC that other companies weren't offering. He's cited by Entrepreneur Magazine, Yahoo Finance, and the US Chamber of Commerce, and was featured by CNBC and InventRight.
 
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.

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