Starting a legal document preparation business in 2021 may be one of the best business moves you’ll make. Many people put off creating important legal documents because of the high cost of attorneys. In some states, a legal document preparer can step into some of the roles an attorney plays, with more affordable rates than full-scale legal representation. If you want to know how to start a legal document preparation business in 2021, keep reading.
Why start a legal document preparation business?
In four states in the U.S. (California, Arizona, Florida, and North Carolina) non-lawyers can prepare certain legal documents under what is known as the “scrivener” exception. This allows for not only preparing the forms but also proving legal information. Note that they cannot provide direct legal advice. The remaining 46 states of the U.S. recognize the scrivener exception but only allow it on a case-by-case basis.
This type of service can go under a variety of names, including:
Legal document preparer
Legal document assistant
Online legal document provider
Legal document clerk
Why are these legal document preparations services so essential? For people without ready access to the legal system (and the requisite costs), legal document preparation businesses offer several valuable services, including:
Greater, more affordable access to the law
Reduced caseload on attorneys and court systems
Fulfilling a pressing need
There are times when people need simple, straightforward help with family matters, filing forms with a court, or forming a living trust. Both online legal document preparation and in-person legal document preparation services are a more affordable option for these types of cases.
How to start a legal document preparation business
In 2019, The American Bar Association passed a resolution at their annual meeting, establishing Best Practice Guidelines for Online Legal Document Providers. While these are not legally binding, this action recognizes how many people utilize this crucial service. With the need growing, now’s a great time to consider starting a legal document preparer service.
To do so, you’ll have to follow specific rules for each state that allows this service.
Florida: Legal document preparers have no formal requirements but must meet certain standards to become a member of The Florida Association of Legal Document Preparers (FALDP)
How to build a legal document preparation business that grows
Once you fulfill these requirements, there are generally three basic steps:
Decide which types of documents you will prepare, and clients you’ll serve
Hire any assistance you need
Start legal document preparation marketing
You’ll have to lay the foundation of your business carefully so that it can grow with you. Let’s get into some details about each of these key areas.
Develop a solid business plan
Starting with a solid business plan is key. Consider and document:
Your goals for your business: Include your mission statement and core values
The description of your services: What legal forms will you specialize in? What will you not do?
Who your clients are: Identify your ideal client demographics
Your legal document preparation marketing strategy: How will you let people know you’re open for business?
A financial plan: This includes start-up costs and a working budget
This business plan is the road map to your success. Without it, you might find yourself down some blind alleys, lost. Take the time to consider all the above elements before you proceed.
Use technology to scale up to meet demand
With many people working from home, technology is going to be an important part of your business. Not only do you need a basic reliable internet connection, but you also need a few specific tools, including legal document software and legal apps for billing and client management.
Whatever technology tools you use, they need to comply with privacy regulations and be easy to scale up. Don’t let yourself be held back by insufficient resources. Invest time and research into getting the best tools so you can get your legal document preparation business up and running.
How to manage legal document preparation marketing
Virtual business marketing relies on specific strategies that gets your business in front of people who are already online. As with any business nowadays, the majority of your clients will first hear about you online.
Content that drives action (e.g., likes, comments, messages)
Connected social media accounts
This is the place to show a bit about who you are and what your business stands for. Keep it professional, but make sure it reflects your company mission statement, style, and core values.
Focus on reviews for your new business
One thing’s certain: Google loves reviews.
There are a variety of lawyer review websites that can be used for your legal document preparation businesses, but if you only have time to manage two, head to Google and Yelp. Ask for reviews at the end of every client project to make it easy.
Build your legal document preparer business
Ready to dive into marketing but have your hands full learning how to start your legal document preparation business? NIVAN can help streamline your marketing efforts and connect you with technology specialists to implement the best legal document software programs into your new business.