LegalZoom of Glendale has agreed to buy British law firm Beaumont Legal for an undisclosed amount, as part of its planned 2016 expansion into the United Kingdom.
The deal is expected to be closed by the end of the year, pending regulatory approval. The purchase comes after LegalZoom was approved in January by regulators to provide legal services as an alternative business structure in the United Kingdom.
LegalZoom sells online legal documents for individuals and small businesses for a price much lower than traditional law firms. Started in 2001, the company’s co-founders include Honest Co. Chief Executive Brian Lee and famed O.J. Simpson attorney Robert Shapiro.
LegalZoom’s lower prices have often created tension with traditional legal services. Bar associations in at least eight states have sued LegalZoom, claiming its services violate regulations that specify only law firms can offer legal advice. LegalZoom has argued in response that some bar associations are operating in violation of federal antitrust laws.
LegalZoom is likely to face similar headwinds from foreign legal associations as it expands internationally. The company appears to be trying to avoid similar troubles in the United Kingdom by operating as an alternative business structure and by channeling some of its future work through law firm Beaumont Legal.
“Our expansion efforts in the UK are an opportunity for LegalZoom to work more closely with attorneys,” said LegalZoom co-founder Edward Hartman, in a statement in January, when the company was approved as an alternative business structure. “Lawyers are a key ingredient of any legal solution, and licensing as an alternative business structure is a natural building block of LegalZoom’s future.”
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