LegalZoom, an online legal services site based in California, is to launch in the UK later this year in an exclusive partnership with high street franchise QualitySolicitors.
The tie-up will see a wide range of legal products, including company formations and divorce documents, offered online, with solicitors from 400 local QualitySolicitors branches on hand to help complete documents or provide face-to-face advice. LegalZoom has also promised to help new businesses get up and running efficiently, from forming the company to creating tailored terms of business and employment contracts.
Claiming to be the most recognised legal brand in the US, LegalZoom was co-founded in 2001 by Robert Shapiro, the former Glaser Weil Fink Jacobs Howard Avchen & Shapiro lawyer who defended American football star OJ Simpson during his murder trial in 1995.
QualitySolicitors was the brainchild of barrister Craig Holt and was launched as an online legal alliance in 2008 with the support of Michael Gradon, a former Slaughter and May solicitor and one-time head of legal and commercial at P&O Group. Last year saw private equity firm Palamon Capital Partners gain a majority shareholding in the company (20 October 2011) months after it struck a deal with WHSmith to allow it to place representatives in up to 500 of the retailer’s branches (7 April 2011).
In a statement Holt said: “Legal services offered by supermarkets and others will be faceless and entirely remote and miss the crucial local, personal element. This partnership brings the best of both worlds, combining the speed, convenience and value LegalZoom’s technology brings, with the comfort and confidence provided by knowing a local QualitySolicitors expert lawyer is on hand to help at any point.”
Edward Hartman, co-founder of LegalZoom, added: “We believe this partnership will significantly improve access to legal services in the UK and some of our more innovative products, in particular, will see significant benefits to consumers and businesses over what is currently available. For example, we will offer personalised contracts for home building projects and contracts of service for au pairs or nannies – just two common examples where currently people tend not to access legal services and, as a result, are often left exposed due to a lack of formal agreement. Equally, we will help new businesses get up and running efficiently, from forming the company to creating tailored terms of business and employment contracts.”