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Google Ventures Is Among Investors for Online Legal Document Services

Google Ventures and others invest $18.5 million in the online legal document service called Rocket Lawyer.  Rocket Lawyer claims to be the “fastest growing online legal service,” according to Forbes, offering easy and affordable legal help to consumers.  Rocket Lawyer offers monthly and annual plans, as well as a per occurrence basis.

Founder Charley Moore told me the firm has 70,000 users a day and has doubled revenue for four years straight to more than $10 million this year.Rocket Lawyer provides online legal forms, from wills to Delaware certificates of incorporation, that non-lawyers can fill out and store and share on the Web. For $19.95 a month, consumers can also have their documents reviewed by a real lawyer and even get legal advice at no additional cost.

The multibillion-legal industry would seem to be a natural for disintermediation, or in layman’s terms, breaking up into higher-volume, lower-margin parts. Online competitor LegalZoom, about which IPO chatter swirls, claims 1 million customers and has executives from Berkshire Hathaway, Intel and Polaris Ventures on its board. Rocket Lawyer raised $7 million in June from Investor Growth Capital, put former LinkedIn Chief Executive Dan Nye in charge as president, and its directors include David Drummond, Google’s top lawyer.

Moore was careful to differentiate his company from LegalZoom, which has tangled with lawyers and bar officials in several states who accuse it of practicing law without a license. (A trap that people who provide legal documents can find hard to escape.) Rocket Lawyer is also affiliated with real lawyers who can provide advice in a pinch. Federal issues are handled nationwide, while somebody with a question about, say, New York contract law would be hitched up with a lawyer licensed in that state. (NOTE: LegalZoom offers similar legal services, for a fee.)

“Rocket Lawyer gives consumers technology to do things themselves with no human intervention at all,” said Moore. “When they do need help, and they do, they can consult with a lawyer.”

We will see these and other Internet-based commoditized legal services and form services will continue to grow as consumers look to reduce legal costs.

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