Nolo vs LegalZoom, Who Does It Better?

Contested legal battles are generally a lifetime’s low for the parties embroiled in them, but an unrivalled spectator sport for the rest of us. Whether it’s a fictional depiction like Kramer vs Kramer or a real-life case like Depp vs Heard, the public’s appetite for courtroom drama remains unsatiated. In this post, we are going to adjudicate on a legal battle of a slightly different nature as we compare two of America’s leading online law services to determine who has the better market presence. Order! Order! The Nolo vs LegalZoom battle is now in session!

Nolo vs LegalZoom: An Overview

Both Nolo and LegalZoom have positioned themselves as ‘disruptive’, E-law service providers seeking to offer affordable and accessible online legal services. Both companies operate a similar business model providing a wide range of downloadable, legal documents such as wills, living trusts and company incorporation documentation.

Nolo and LegalZoom are therefore direct competitors in a tough market and today is not the first time that the two legal-tech titans have been compared. Indeed a 2012 piece in Consumer Reports magazine found that ​using both Nolo and LegalZooms draft legal document library was “​generally better than drafting the documents yourself without legal training or not having them at all. But unless your needs are simple… none of the will-writing products is likely to entirely meet your needs”. In this post though we are not focusing on the actual service they provide but rather are examining their branding and market presence.

LegalZoom Vs Nolo: Branding

Importantly, Nolo was initially founded as a publisher of DIY legal paper books back in 1971 and can draw on this heritage in their branding. Their logo depicts the scales of justice, tilted in the weight of the consumer with the “50 Years” banner beside it. Considering that the online legal sector is still widely distrusted, having half a century of pedigree does offer some much-needed assistance to prospective clients.

LegalZoom on the other hand have opted for a much dryer logo graphic which simply melds together the letters L and Z in a feat of graphic design worthy of a high school undergraduate. Frankly, at a first glance there is nothing that stands out about their brand.

Whilst this is subjective, we feel that Nolo are branding and representing themselves much better than their rival LegalZoom.

LegalZoom vs Nolo: Social Media

First up, Nolo seems to have very little Facebook presence and their page actually looks abandoned with a dismal 28 likes! On the other hand, LegalZoom have nearly 250k likes and are updating their page with new content on a daily basis.

Over in the Twittersphere it’s a similar prognosis. Nolo have attracted just under 5k followers but haven’t tweeted much in the last year whereas LegalZoom are approaching 30k followers with tweets or at least re-tweets every few days.

Finally, on Instagram LegalZoom has 16.7k followers against Nolo’s sorry 230 – although if we are honest, this is not a particularly Instagramable niche so we can readily forgive Nolo’s lack of presence.

The verdict here is quite clear, LegalZoom are towering heads and tails above their rival in the battle of social media.

LegalZoom Vs Nolo: SEO

Savvy online marketers will tell you that whereas social media is like an expensive espresso providing a quick hit, SEO is like a good, solid breakfast that keeps you going all day.

In order to compare Nolo’s and LegalZoom’s SEO presence, I typed a series of valuable keywords into Google including “Online wills”, “online legal document” and “download deed of trust draft”. Overall, neither had a particularly strong dominance whereas their rival RocketLawyer had managed to bag quite a few of the top search positions.

However, LegalZoom did have a slight edge as they made it onto page 1 a few times whereas Nolo did not.

Nolo vs LegalZoom: Press Coverage

Both Nolo and LegalZoom have earned the right to a Wikipedia page which is a badge of accomplishment if ever there was one; contrary to a popular misconception, not everybody is allowed to have a Wikipedia page.

Furthermore both have been mentioned in the legal industry press on numerous occasions over the years. That said, not all the coverage has been entirely favorable and LegalZooms efficacy was questioned in a 2016 piece on “blogtrepreneur”. LegalZoom were also involved in a long running litigation against the North Carolina Bar Association which received extensive legal press coverage prior to its settlement in 2015.

Notably, Nolo do seem to have bagged themselves a few recent mentions by contributing pieces to the Petfood Industry Press and Daily Republic!

Crucially though, LegalZoom were included in an examination of the online law industry by the influential whereas Nolo were not deemed significant enough to feature.

Nolo vs LegalZoom: Final Thoughts

Whilst Nolo have long been established as a publisher of DIY legal books, it seems that they need some further work on repositioning themselves as cutting edge e-lawyer. LegalZoom on the other hand have built up a healthy social media presence, are making inroads into SEO and have a high-profile piece of litigation under their belt which proves that there is no such thing as bad publicity!