Clerky vs. LegalZoom: Which service is best for startups?

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Discover the ideal formation solution for your business with our in-depth comparison of Clerky and LegalZoom.

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Lifetime subscription or pay-per-use
$149 - $349
Best For:
Startups looking for help in legal filing of their C-Corp formation and incorporation documents for compliance
Best For:
Entrepreneurs, small business owners, and individuals seeking accessible and cost-effective legal and tax assistance
Lifetime subscription or pay-per-use
Best For:
Startups looking for help in legal filing of their C-Corp formation and incorporation documents for compliance
$149 - $349
Best For:
Entrepreneurs, small business owners, and individuals seeking accessible and cost-effective legal and tax assistance

Embarking on your entrepreneurial journey or managing an established business comes with a myriad of legal and administrative tasks.

When it comes to legal services and business solutions, you might have come across two notable players: Clerky and LegalZoom.

As we delve into the comparison of Clerky vs. LegalZoom, we’ll navigate through essential questions such as: 

  • What sets these services apart in terms of pricing, features, and overall experience?
  • Which one is the perfect fit for your unique business objectives?
  • How can you confidently take the first steps or make the right choice for your existing business?

SMB Guide uncovers this ideal solution for your entrepreneurial needs.

Pro-tip: If you want more insights into these two services, check out our reviews of Clerky and LegalZoom.

Clerky vs. LegalZoom at a glance

SMB Guide’s Rating7/108.5/10LegalZoom
Business Formation ServicesFocuses on C CorpsMultiple entity typesLegalZoom
Processing Time2-3 days turnaround5 to 14 daysClerky
Registered Agent Services and Costs1st year free, $125/yr$249/yearClerky
Name Availability SearchTie
Online Document AccessClerky
Money-Back GuaranteesNone60 daysLegalZoom
Platform User-FriendlinessEasy to use with simple interfaceAesthetic UILegalZoom
Customization OptionsLegalZoom
Compliance AssistanceTie
Industry-Specific ExpertiseEstablished in 2011Founded in 2001LegalZoom
Customer Education and ResourcesTie
Customer SupportPhone, emailPhone, live chat, emailLegalZoom
Pricing$819 one-time$149 – $349LegalZoom
ScalabilityNot scalableConvert as you growLegalZoom

How we evaluate and test softwares

When testing softwares/apps, SMB Guide employs a dual approach based on free trial availability and demos. For platforms offering free trials, we test their functionalities, usability, navigation, and ease of use. In the case of tools lacking a free version or trial, we rely on in-depth research and user testimonials through software review platforms like G2, Capterra, TrustRadius, Software Advice, and GetApp to gauge their performance and capabilities. Learn more about our ratings criteria for business formation services here.

Clerky: Key Features, Pros, Cons, & Pricing

clerky homepage

Clerky is an internet-based legal service designed to assist startups and novice founders in preparing the necessary legal documents for compliance.

This includes covering a wide range of tasks from business formation and fundraising to the process of hiring employees.

Additionally, it provides businesses the ability to establish their venture in Delaware.

It’s important to highlight that this platform exclusively facilitates the formation of C Corporations. 

Wondering how it operates? It’s a straightforward process – you create an account on the platform, complete the required forms, and the software takes care of the rest, setting up a Delaware C Corporation for you. 

Afterward, Clerky submits the documents to a third-party registered agent, who handles the filing with the state and Department of State (DoS).

Pros & Cons


Fundraising support

Option for pay-per-service

Native collaboration features

Legal compliance for startups


Only does C-Corps

No money-back guarantee


Clerky offers a lifetime plan and a pay-per-use model: 

  • Lifetime Plan with a $819 one-time fee
  • Pay Per Use starting at $125 + third-party fees

LegalZoom: Key Features, Pros, Cons, & Pricing

LegalZoom homepage

LegalZoom stands out by offering a comprehensive suite of services for business formation that spans the realms of entity selection, name reservation, document filing, and more.

Additionally, they provide registered agent services, ensuring that businesses adhere to legal requirements while receiving essential documents and notifications.

LegalZoom distinguishes itself with a strong emphasis on attorney expertise.

While it doesn’t replace the necessity of an attorney, it does offer access to invaluable legal counsel through its legal plan services.

This allows customers to consult with experienced attorneys on a wide range of legal issues.

You also get access to an extensive collection of legal documents and templates, making tasks like drafting contracts and creating wills more accessible.

This significantly enhances the platform’s overall utility.

Pros & Cons


100% satisfaction guarantee

User-friendly and easy processes

Incredible customer support

Wide range of legal services


Expensive add-ons

Registered Agent service is expensive


LegalZoom’s pricing structure is flexible and contingent on the specific services and packages you choose.

For LLC business formation, the most commonly selected package starts at $0, but it’s essential to note that state filing fees are separate.

Furthermore, distinct pricing models apply to services like registered agent services, legal plans, and trademark registration.


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Business Formation Services

Clerky primarily caters to startups by offering comprehensive business formation services, ensuring they meet all legal requirements.

In addition to aiding with the initial formation, Clerky’s platform provides startups with a dashboard for handling additional legal paperwork related to hiring and fundraising.

Startups using Clerky’s services gain lifetime access to updates and all necessary formation documents. 

The range of services offered to startups during the business formation process includes C Corporation incorporation, including filing the required documents with the state of Delaware for permits.

You also get:

  • Post-incorporation support for issuing stock options and adding authorized shares, among others
  • Clerky offers services to help international startups incorporate their venture in the U.S.

LegalZoom formation services

LegalZoom is widely acclaimed for its extensive suite of business formation services, covering a broad spectrum of entity types:

  • LLCs, providing expert guidance in the intricate process of selecting a distinct business name, filing essential documents, and ensuring strict adherence to state regulations
  • Corporations (both C and S corp), including filing of articles of incorporation, and ensuring compliance with the necessary legal guidelines for corporate structures
  • General and Limited Partnerships, including assistance in the naming process and simplifying the filing of mandatory documents

Plus, LegalZoom offers more adaptability that enables businesses to make choices that seamlessly align with their unique requirements and budgetary considerations.

Winner: LegalZoom

Processing Time

Clerky provides varying processing times for different services, and here are the estimated durations for each: 

  • Incorporation: Clerky offers an expedited service for the incorporation process, which typically takes 2 to 3 days to obtain a Delaware state certificate of incorporation.
  • Foreign Qualification: States like California usually process their state qualifications in approximately 3 to 4 weeks. For those seeking an expedited service in California, it can be expedited in 2 days at an additional fee of $350 to the state. Similarly, in New York, the foreign qualification process also takes 2 days to complete.

It’s important to note that Clerky does not offer post-incorporation and stock plan adoption services.

Startups can manage these two processes independently, but it’s advisable to seek legal counsel for guidance during these stages.

LegalZoom’s processing times

In general, standard processing times for services related to business formation and document submissions to government entities typically range from 5 to 14 business days.

Essentially, this means that once you initiate the process, you can expect to wait for up to two weeks before receiving your finalized documentation.

LegalZoom also offers expedited services at an additional cost, which varies depending on the particular service you choose and your geographical location.

Winner: Clerky

Registered Agent Services and Costs

Startups have the option to utilize Clerky as their registered agent, receiving a comprehensive set of services essential for both the incorporation and ongoing management of their business.

This includes assistance with tasks such as annual tax report filing for compliance and payment of franchise taxes.

Clerky charges an annual fee of $125 for its registered agent service for startups.

However, it’s important to be aware that this service does not include compliance support.

The only additional expenses you may incur are the state filing fees. Despite this, the fee offers certain benefits, including unlimited access to document retrieval and storage.

Keep in mind that Clerky does not provide physical address verification.

Additionally, they do not offer legal representation, with the responsibility falling upon the startup for any legal matters.

LegalZoom’s registered agent services

LegalZoom incorporates registered agent services as an integral component of its comprehensive suite of business support solutions, available at an annual cost of $249.

This offering holds particular significance for businesses, especially those with operations spanning multiple states.

With LegalZoom’s registered agent services, you gain the ability to:

  • Manage Essential Legal Documents: Effectively oversee crucial legal documents, including tax notifications, legal summons, and other official correspondence on behalf of your business.
  • Protect Owner Privacy: Safeguard the privacy of business owners by using the registered agent’s address for public records, ensuring the confidentiality of personal addresses.
  • Access Expert Legal Guidance: Leverage the expertise and guidance of a reputable legal services provider, a valuable resource, particularly for new business owners navigating complex legal compliance requirements.

Winner: Clerky

Name Availability Search

Clerky’s name availability search tool is not available for free and is included with Clerky’s paid plan.

clerky business name search

With this tool, businesses can input their desired name to check its availability in Delaware or any other state within the US.

The process is user-friendly, allowing you to easily verify name availability on your own.

Clerky’s tool stands out for its precision, as it relies on each state’s official online business search tool to provide accurate results.

One noteworthy aspect of this tool is its regular updates and its restriction of automated records access.

If the name you’re searching for is unavailable or resembles that of other entities, the tool will promptly alert you to avoid any potential issues.

LegalZoom name availability search

Currently, LegalZoom does not offer a distinct, standalone tool on their website for conducting name availability searches.

Instead, LegalZoom has integrated this feature into their service packages, which become accessible when you choose one of their service options.

This is a noteworthy drawback when compared to some competitors like, which provide free and comprehensive online name search tools.

Winner: Tie

Online Document Access

Clerky simplifies the process of accessing your formation documents online via its user-friendly portal.

clerky document access

Whether you need to share the document via email, view it on the dashboard, or download it, Clerky offers multiple convenient options.

This digital accessibility is especially beneficial for individuals and startups located outside the US, as it eliminates the need for shipping and associated charges.

Clerky’s platform streamlines access to your company documents. Entrepreneurs can log in to their account using their email credentials.

Once logged in, you can easily search for a specific document using relevant keywords or terms.

legalzoom legal forms

LegalZoom doesn’t offer an extensive online document storage system for storing your business documents and filings.

Instead, they send your original documents and filings through postal mail.

However, they do provide access to a comprehensive library of templates encompassing a wide range of legal forms and documents.

These templates are available in PDF format, allowing users to review and download them.

Winner: Clerky

Money-Back Guarantees

Clerky does not explicitly advertise a money-back guarantee for their services.

However, they do have a customer-friendly policy where they charge you only after the document filing process is completed.

In addition, Clerky showcases its support for foreign qualification in states like New York and California, providing startups with a minimum discount of $160 for this service.

While these customer-oriented practices demonstrate Clerky’s commitment to its clients, it’s important to note that they do not offer a formal money-back guarantee, which may be a concern for some customers seeking additional peace of mind.

LegalZoom’s guarantees

LegalZoom provides what they call the “LZ Guarantee,” which reflects their strong dedication to delivering top-notch legal services with precision.

It’s important to clarify that this guarantee is distinct from traditional money-back guarantees.

If LegalZoom makes an error on your order, they commit to correcting it at no additional cost to you.

However, it’s essential to note that LegalZoom’s guarantee doesn’t encompass a standard, straightforward money-back policy for situations where customers are dissatisfied or have a change of mind about a service. 

In such cases unrelated to LegalZoom’s errors, the potential eligibility for a refund is typically assessed individually.

Winner: LegalZoom

Platform User-Friendliness

Clerky has a user-friendly platform. The platform is designed to be intuitive, making it relatively easy for people, including startups and entrepreneurs, to manage their legal documents and compliance needs.

Clerky dashboard

Users can quickly get the hang of the system and perform necessary tasks without a steep learning curve.

While it offers a functional and efficient interface, it doesn’t necessarily go above and beyond in terms of offering unique or exceptional features.

legalzoom dashboard

LegalZoom offers a user-friendly platform that caters to a diverse range of users, from newcomers in the entrepreneurial world to experienced business owners.

Whether you’re starting a new business, creating legal documents, or seeking legal services, you’ll quickly discover that the platform is easy to navigate and straightforward to use.

Winner: LegalZoom

Customization Options

Clerky offers a degree of customization through a pay-per-use model that allows startups to select and pay for the specific services they require.

While the platform doesn’t provide an extensive array of pre-packaged service bundles, it empowers users to nitpick and choose the services that align with their unique needs.

This flexibility ensures that startups have full control over the services they access and pay for.

Instead of being tied to predefined packages, businesses can tailor their experience by selecting individual services based on their immediate requirements without any unnecessary extras.

LegalZoom services

LegalZoom offers a variety of service packages designed to cater to different business needs.

This flexibility empowers customers to choose the package that aligns with their immediate requirements and budget.

Within these service packages, LegalZoom often provides additional services that customers can customize to fit their specific needs.

For example, customers can select options like registered agent services, obtaining an Employer Identification Number (EIN), or obtaining a business license, depending on their individual requirements.

Winner: LegalZoom

Compliance Assistance

Clerky extends valuable support in terms of compliance assistance for startups, making it easier for them to meet their regulatory and legal obligations.

Clerky compliance assistance

Startups can rely on Clerky to assist with annual tax reporting, ensuring they remain in compliance with tax regulations.

One notable aspect of Clerky’s compliance assistance is its ability to facilitate incorporation in states like New York (NY) and California (CA).

These states have unique regulatory requirements, and Clerky can provide valuable guidance and assistance in navigating the intricate process of establishing your startup within these jurisdictions. 

This ensures that startups can effectively adhere to state-specific regulations and requirements, saving them time and effort in the often complex compliance process.

LegalZoom compliance support

LegalZoom offers a similar level of support for staying compliant with various legal requirements, such as filing annual reports, meeting tax deadlines, and staying up-to-date with relevant regulations.

This encompasses their Compliance Calendar tool, registered agent services, annual report submissions, regular updates to corporate records, and assistance in obtaining the necessary licenses and permits to operate legally within the applicable jurisdiction.

Winner: Tie

Industry-Specific Expertise

Clerky’s founders, Chris Field and Darby Wong, are top-tier startup attorneys who recognized the common problems faced by startups when dealing with online legal services, low-quality lawyers, or do-it-yourself approaches, which often resulted in legal complications, delayed financial transactions, and significant legal expenses.

In response to these challenges, they founded Clerky in 2011, with a mission to provide startups with a reliable and specialized online legal service.

Clerky’s unique focus on startups has helped founders navigate the legal complexities of starting and scaling a company.

This has led to over $5 billion in seed financing for their customers.

Successful founders and top-tier startup attorneys highly recommend Clerky, underlining its importance in helping startups minimize legal due diligence issues and pave the way for successful growth and funding.

LegalZoom’s industry expertise

LegalZoom has a substantial history, tracing back to its establishment in 2001, which has contributed to its prominence within the industry.

As a legal technology firm from the outset, it embarked on an innovative journey to utilize technology in making legal services more accessible.

Building upon this tech-driven foundation, LegalZoom has harnessed its extensive experience to develop innovative solutions and enhance the efficiency of legal processes.

Winner: LegalZoom

Customer Education and Resources

Clerky offers a wealth of customer education resources designed to empower startups with the knowledge and information they need to navigate the legal aspects of their business effectively.

These resources include:

  • Clerky’s Help Center serves as a comprehensive knowledge base where users can find answers to common questions, access step-by-step guides, and gain insights into various legal and administrative processes.
  • The Clerky Handbook provides in-depth explanations and guidance on various legal concepts and topics relevant to startups. This handbook offers a deeper understanding of the legal intricacies involved in forming and managing a business.
  • The Clerky Blog gives practical advice, and insightful analyses related to legal and business matters. 

Social Media Support: Clerky maintains an active presence on social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

These channels serve as avenues for startups to engage with the Clerky community, seek advice, and stay informed about the latest updates and legal insights.

LegalZoom’s resources

LegalZoom offers a well-rounded collection of informative articles that span a wide spectrum of legal and business topics, all conveniently available on their website.

These articles are written by legal experts and experienced industry specialists, providing a wealth of insights, including in-depth analyses, real-world case studies, and actionable advice.

Moreover, LegalZoom provides a wide array of legal document templates, ranging from contract creation to agreement drafting, and even will preparation.

To stay updated and connected, you can subscribe to their newsletters and follow LegalZoom on popular social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram.

Winner: Tie

Customer Support

Clerky’s customer support for startups falls below the industry average.

The primary means of contacting support is limited to email communication, which often results in extended response times ranging from 5 to 8 hours, making it less suitable for urgent inquiries.

LegalZoom’s customer support

LegalZoom provides multiple channels for customer support, catering to various preferences.

If you prefer phone-based assistance, you can contact their customer care team during their service hours.

They are available to assist you from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. PT on weekdays and from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. PT on weekends.

For general inquiries, you can reach them at (888) 379-0854. If you have questions related to sales, you can get in touch with them at (855) 787-1922.

Alternatively, for those who prefer online communication, you can submit your questions or inquiries through their website.

LegalZoom also offers real-time chat support, allowing you to engage in live conversations with their agents.

Winner: LegalZoom


Clerky offers a versatile pricing structure for startups, allowing them to choose between a one-time payment or pay-per-use model.

The central offering is the “Lifetime” plan, which serves as an all-encompassing package.

The Lifetime Package includes:

  • Expedited incorporation filing fees
  • Delaware registered agent first-year fee
  • Reminders for franchise tax and annual report
  • Support for hiring, fundraising, and maintenance

The one-time fee of $819 is an ideal choice for businesses seeking comprehensive legal guidance and support in Delaware C Corp formation and incorporation.

The pay-per-use model charges the following for Formation services:

  • Incorporation: $99+ third party fees = $427
  • Post-Incorporation Setup: $299
  • Foreign Qualification: $125+ third party fees for CA and NY
  • Stock Plan Adoption: $199

LegalZoom’s pricing plans are structured as below:

Entity TypePlan and PricePlan and PricePlan and Price
LLCBasic: $0 + state filing feesPro: $249 + state filing feesPremium: $299 + state filing fees
CorporationEconomy: $149 + state filing feesStandard: $329 + state filing feesExpress Gold: $349 + state filing fees
Nonprofit CorporationEconomy: $99 + state filing feesStandard: $239 + state filing feesExpress Gold: $359 + state filing fees
Limited PartnershipEconomy: $149 + state filing feesStandard: $259 + state filing feesExpress Gold: $379 + state filing fees
Limited Liability Partnership (LLP)Economy: $149 + state filing feesStandard: $259 + state filing feesExpress Gold: $379 + state filing fees

Winner: LegalZoom

Standout Features of Clerky

In addition to its legal formation and incorporation services, Clerky offers a range of valuable extra features to support startups in achieving compliance and success.

This includes hiring assistance, enabling them to bring on board consultants and staff while efficiently issuing equity compensation through stock options. 

Startups can also benefit from ongoing maintenance services that facilitate the maintenance of corporate status.

Plus, you get assistance on compliance-related tasks, including assistance with filing annual tax reports.

The service also provides guidance on the intricacies of incorporating in states like New York and California, ensuring that startups remain in adherence to legal requirements and regulations.

Standout Features of LegalZoom

LegalZoom’s Compliance Calendar serves as an invaluable resource that empowers businesses to stay informed and proactive regarding crucial deadlines and essential filings.

This tool guarantees that businesses receive advanced notifications for significant dates, including annual reports and state income tax deadlines, actively assisting them in maintaining compliance.

Additionally, LegalZoom offers a Trademark Search service that assists businesses in making informed decisions before embarking on the process of applying for a federal trademark.

Clerky vs. LegalZoom: SMB Guide’s Verdict

After our thorough evaluation, LegalZoom takes the lead by a mile.

LegalZoom emerges as the overall winner due to its extensive industry experience and its wide range of services.

This makes it an excellent option for businesses looking for comprehensive support while scaling their operations, especially if you want to go past C-Corp.

Give LegalZoom a try here!

Clerky, on the other hand, is a perfect fit for C-Corp startups with a singular growth strategy and focus.


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Beatrice is a seasoned productivity writer with a knack for uncovering game-changing productivity hacks that simplify life routines. Armed with a triple major in Commerce, Accounting, and Insurance, she also runs her own digital consulting firm. You'll usually find her immersed in crafting captivating literary novels and traveling the world.