|Image [cc] Rusty Tanton|
The term “Access to Justice” (A2J) is tossed around a lot in the legal world, but as the old saying goes, talk is cheap. It is common for state bar associations to step up and use another phrase to shoot down A2J projects or non-lawyers’ attempt to fill a gap in the legal process that is underserved. In most cases, it is seen as a ploy to protect the Bar Association’s members… at the expense of those needing help with a complicated legal system. One of the most contentious issues is on basic legal forms. Companies like LegalZoom have stepped in to create forms for the individual citizen, and have found many states are very reluctant in approving of their products and services.
This morning, LegalZoom launched a press release that announced that the South Carolina Supreme Court approved of their business model and that its services of providing legal forms for individual citizens to use is not the unorthorized practice of law. The original lawsuit of T. Travis Medlock v. LegalZoom, Inc. brought the action requesting declaratory relief, injunctive relief and disgorgement of revenues, among other measures. This isn’t the only UPL action that LegalZoom is facing, according to their SEC Filing, they are fighting UPL claims in Alabama, Ohio, Arkansas, Missouri, and North Carolina. On March 1, 2013, Nelson Mullins attorney, B. Rush Smith III, filed a pre-hearing brief that lays out what LegalZoom is doing is simply being “an online scrivener for a customer purchasing an online automated legal document.”
Looks like, at least in South Carolina, LegalZoom has prevailed. The press release is listed below.
SOUTH CAROLINA SUPREME COURT APPROVES LEGALZOOM BUSINESS MODEL .
Apr 22 2014 11:00:10
South Carolina Supreme Court Approves LegalZoom Business Model
Demonstrates Commitment to Increase Access to the Justice System for all South Carolina Residents
GLENDALE, Calif., April 22, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The South Carolina Supreme Court reviewed LegalZoom.com, Inc.’s business practices and, in an order issued on March 11, 2014, found that LegalZoom does not engage in the unauthorized practice of law, ensuring South Carolina residents the continued ability to access LegalZoom’s services.
“We are pleased that the South Carolina Supreme Court has approved LegalZoom’s business model allowing access to online legal documents,” said Ken Friedman, Vice President of Legal and Government Affairs at LegalZoom. “As with many state bars, when a record is made about LegalZoom’s products and services, the result is that our fundamental business model is found to be legally sound.”
“Everyone deserves access to the civil justice system. We look forward to continuing to serve our many customers in the State of South Carolina,” added Friedman. “Whether our customers want one of the products reviewed by the Supreme Court, such as documents related to business formation, estate planning documents, or real estate leases, or they want the help of licensed South Carolina attorneys associated with LegalZoom’s legal plans, LegalZoom will continue its business practices in South Carolina and all 50 states in which LegalZoom operates.” The announcement follows the resolution of the lawsuit of T. Travis Medlock v. LegalZoom.com, Inc.
LegalZoom is the nation’s leading provider of personalized, affordable online legal solutions for families and small businesses. Founded more than 12 years ago by attorneys with experience at some of the top law firms in the country, LegalZoom has helped over two million Americans become protected with binding legal documents. Although LegalZoom is not a law firm, it can help people access an attorney through its legal plans. The company has offices in Austin, Glendale, and Mountain View. For more information, visit www.legalzoom.com.
CONTACT: Johanna Namir, (323) 337-0022