15 Dec
How To Start A Legal Document Preparation Business In 2021 | NIVAN

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
  • Document technician
  • Legal technician
  • 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.

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.

This is very similar to setting up a virtual law firm, except your focus is on providing information and document services.

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.

Understand legal document preparation marketing guidelines

Even if you aren’t a lawyer, legal document preparation marketing follows the same rules as those applied to law firms.

In a nutshell, you must:

  • Explicitly state that you are not providing legal advice (just information)
  • Avoid making false claims (i.e., it’s not legal to claim you are an “expert”)
  • Only advertise services you offer
  • Keep language clear and simple

The best resource for legal document preparation marketing guidelines in your state? Your state’s bar association. They can help you clarify your marketing strategy and keep it all above-board.

Create a mobile-responsive website

Many people will find you first on your website, so make it a good one. At a minimum:

  • Include contact information (i.e., phone, email, and hours)
  • Clearly describe the services you offer
  • Include a call-to-action with an easy “contact” button on every page of your website
  • Develop high-quality content that establishes you as a trusted authority

In everything, keep SEO top-of-mind. Your potential clients won’t find you if search engines don’t think your site is valuable!

Move into social media, when it makes sense for your market

Adults in the U.S. spent an average of 148 minutes on social media every day. That’s nearly three hours!

Meet them where they are with a manageable social media strategy that includes:

  • Regularly scheduled posts
  • 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.

Get in touch today!

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