Legal Genie, Latest Online Legal Doc Provider, Searches for Funding

Legal Genie may get its wish this year.

Recently spun out from the Legal Aid Society of Orange County, the Santa Ana, Calif-based company  is hunting for investors, says CEO Tom Larkin. “We’re looking for either private equity or venture capital,” he says. “We want a long term investor and one that understand that this marketplace is estimated to go to $20 billion in the next 10 years.”

The company is seeking a $20 million investment but will consider doing rounds, says Larkin, who has been meeting with investors in Dallas and San Francisco. “This isn’t a startup but a small, operating company with an initial revenue stream,” he says. “Something beyond seed level.”

The sector has attracted much investor attention recently. Last May, Internet Brands scooped up Nolo, a provider of consumer legal information, for a rumored $20 million. That same month, Kleiner Perkins and Institutional Venture Partners invested in Legal Zoom in a $66 million funding round. Rocket Lawyer, a provider of online legal forms, secured $18.5 million the following August from investors including Google Ventures and August Capital. (Another related deal was MidOcean Partners’ $650 million buy of Pre-Paid Legal Services in 2011. But Pre-Paid offers affordable legal services, not legal documents).

Legal Genie caters to people that make too much money for legal aide but can’t afford the services of a full-time lawyer. They also don’t want to spend a lot of money on simple legal documents, like wills or divorces, Larkin says. “Most people are really unhappy with the quality of legal services,” he says.

Launched this month, Legal Genie’s modules have been used by consumers in California for years. The company’s software was originally part of the Legal Aid Society of Orange County, Larkin says. The company  plans to targets users, aged 18 to 67 years old, with annual incomes ranging from $31,000 to $125,000. So far, Legal Genie has amassed more than 600,000 users and the company’s modules have been accepted in more than 185 individual courts. Prices start at $45 and goes to $799, Larkin says.

Legal Genie aims to be simple. Its modules guides users by asking simple question like “Why do you want to change your name?” that helps gear them to the right forms. Legal Genie’s software “automatically sorts and files” completed pleadings to the right jurisdiction and correct court, Larkin says. Some forms can even be e-filed. “We don’t charge until the pleading is accepted by the court,” he says.

Users can also choose to have an attorney review the documents. They pay for these counseling sessions in half-hour increments, Larkin says. So far, Legal Genie is in seven states, including California, Minnesota and Georgia. “There are over thirty states that are converting to statewide forms, hence the reason why we a raising investment capital,” he says.

Clearly, the company is still ramping up. Legal Genie’s web site says it offers wills. However, when I tried to click on wills, I didn’t find anything. The will module is expected to launch over the summer along with several others, Larkin says. I then tried to change my name but the forms for New York weren’t available. A company representative told me that it would cost $199 to switch my name, which would include attorney review. There is no option yet to separate the services, the rep says.

Larkin admits that attorney review is confusing right now at Legal Genie. The company’s I-CAN product line does not have the attorney review feature but Legal Genie does, he says. “Whenever possible we allow the consumer to choose the option of attorney review,” he says.

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