About This Website: LegalConsumer.com

About LegalConsumer.com


Empowering consumers since 2006


Who We Are

LegalConsumer.com authors have law degrees and decades of experience delivering clear, plain-English legal information to people who need it.

Our Mission

Our goal is to help you solve your problem quickly so you can get on with your life.

1. Learn what to do. 2. Get help if you need it. 3. Get on with your life. 

Life is hard enough. Everything we do at LegalConsumer.com is designed to help you get on with your life with a minimum of hassle, even when -- or especially when -- you're faced with life's tasks that are important but complicated.

1. Learn What To Do

We help you learn what to do by providing free, quality information about the legal issues affecting your life...

...all without you having to sign up for anything or pay any money to anyone.  

The Internet is full of sharks out to take your money. We attempt to guide you through those shark-infested waters to clear, reliable information that can help you solve your problem. 

We're passionate about informing consumers of their rights and how to take advantage of them.

A surprising percentage of consumers do not take advantage of consumer laws and programs, like bankruptcy, or expedited probate procedures, that could help them deal with their situation. Perhaps because they are unaware that these rights and opportunities exist. We'd like to change that, one web visitor at a time. Our goal is to make you a legally savvy consumer who knows your rights and how to enforce them or hire or contact someone who can.

2. Get Help If You Need It

Once you've learned about your problem, you should get help if you need it.

There is no shame in needing help from a lawyer or an insurance broker to ensure you're getting things right. Your situation may be complicated.

Only some people are do-it-yourself-er; others need extra help. That's where our advertisers come in...

We've helped thousands of consumers connect with a local lawyer through the Nolo/Martindale free lawyer-matching service or an Obamacare insurance broker via HealthNetwork.

We also offer a variety of articles to help you shop for a lawyer wisely and understand what you should expect that lawyer to do for you once they're hired.

(We are not affiliated in any way with any of our advertisers. But they help keep this site free to the public.)

3. Get On With Your Life!

At LegalConsumer.com, we hope that the information and resources we provide help you solve the problems that brought you here, looking for answers.

We aim to help you get through life's hassles quickly and safely so you can get on with your life.

We hope you find the answers you are looking for or get closer to finding the best information on the subject.

And good for you for standing up for your rights as a consumer!


How We Are Funded

LegalConsumer.com is a d.b.a of RelationalVision Database Solutions, LLC, and has always been an independent small business — and has never been part of a giant conglomerate, a giant hedge fund, or beholden to bankers, funders, or donors.

From day one, the mission of LegalConsumer.com has been to:

  1. Use technology to empower ordinary consumers to protect their rights under local, state, and federal laws — either for free or as cheaply as possible.
    1. We're always looking for new ways that technology can make it simpler for ordinary people to handle their routine legal matters.
  2. Be a portal to trustworthy, curated links and legal information in an online sea of schemers and predatory sharks.
    1. If someone out there is doing cool stuff for consumers, we're happy to link to it. 
    2. We like to support the #A2J (Access to Justice) movement that has arisen recently within the tech world. We've been promoting #A2J for 30 years! Welcome to the party!
  3. Be a free, open resource for consumers seeking to understand and enforce their rights as consumers under local, state, and federal law.
    1. Offer all this information without requiring anyone to give up personal information about themselves.
    2. Without tracking users without their consent
    3. Without charging for information (by charging advertisers instead). 
  4. Help consumers get the most out of hiring a lawyer if they decide to use one.
    1. We'd love to see an army of savvy, educated "Legal Consumers" who:
      1. Know what rights they have under existing consumer laws
      2. Know how to use a lawyer effectively to enforce those rights
  5. To provide our lead buyers with quality potential customers
    1. Like most free legal sites on the internet, this site generates income by connecting potential clients to professionals who could use their services. No one likes to waste time with a bad fit. Unlike some sites, LegalConsumer is not just about getting visitors to fill out a lead form. We present information first and follow up if people want more help.
    2. This means lead buyers get fewer "looky-loos" — only in search of basic information, and more users who actually need the extra professional help that lead buyers can provide.
    3. And if a user does need professional help, we encourage them to
      1. Read about how to work effectively and efficiently with a lawyer:
        1. what to expect from the lawyer
        2. what the lawyer will expect from them
      2. Fill in our lead form to connect with local lawyers or health insurance brokers who can help navigate the problem.
  6. Try to make the world better without going broke.
    1. Grow organically.
      1. All of our traffic is from organic search
      2. 18 million users have found us that way
      3. Thousands of new users find us each month
      4. We've never bought an ad.
    2. Remain independent of wealthy donors or investment bankers to do all this.
      1. LegalConsumer has always maintained a cookie-jar philosophy toward finance.
      2. We've avoided indebtedness to bankers because life is short and who wants to spend their lives having to please bankers?
    3. Focus on Being Useful... the rest will follow
      1. good content
      2. and keep it up to date,
      3. good UX
      4. fast loading pages

Who Visits LegalConsumer.com?

Seventeen years and 18 million users later... we are still at it!

As of this writing (January 2023), a million new users each year find us on search engines when they're looking looking for local information about consumer law on bankruptcy, minimum wages, tips, their local unemployment office, their local probate court, estate taxes, the local family court (to deal with child custody matters)...

Some are simply looking to find out how to contact their elected officials about a consumer issue or report fraud to a local state agency...

So, seventeen years and counting... 

As long as folks keep finding it helpful, we'll keep improving and updating the site as time permits!

Most Popular Locations in 2023

Metro Regions

  1. New York, NY - 53,754 users
  2. Chicago, IL - 39,324 users
  3. Los Angeles, CA - 35,361 users
  4. Atlanta, GA - 34,626 users
  5. Washington DC (Hagerstown, MD) - 29,855 users
  6. Dallas-Fort Worth - 25,739 users
  7. Philadephia, PA - 23,890 users
  8. Boston, MA - 17,282 Manchester-NH - users
  9. Seattle-Tacoma, WA - 16,518 users
  10. San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, CA - 16,423 users
  11. Denver, CO - 16,408 users
  12. Phoenix, AZ - 15,700 users
  13. Nashville, TN - 14,066 users
  14. Charlotte, NC - 13,542 users
  15. Houston, TX - 13,276 users
  16. Orlando-Daytona Beach-Melbourne, FL - 12,280 users
  17. Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN - 11,419 users
  18. Tampa-St. PetersburgFL - 11,170 users
  19. Indianapolis, IN - 9,910 users
  20. Raleigh-Durham (Fayetteville), NC 9,665 - users


  1. California - 75,362 users
  2. Texas - 61,279 users
  3. New York 57,452 users
  4. Illinois - 48,931 users
  5. Florida - 48,377 users
  6. Georgia - 47,474 users
  7. Pennsylvania - 35,720 users
  8. North Carolina - 33,967 users
  9. Virginia - 31,562 Users
  10. Ohio - 30,241 Users
  11. Tennessee - 28,498 users
  12. Washington - 21,692 users
  13. Missouri - 20,082 users
  14. Michigan - 20,058 users
  15. New Jersey - 19,527 users
  16. Colorado - 19,087 users
  17. Indiana - 18,724 users
  18. Arizona - 18,371 users
  19. Kentucky - 17,677 users
  20. Maryland - 16,933 users

Number of Free Means Test Calculations (approx)

  • 2022 - 830 / 1,187 (Finished/Started)
  • 2021 - 950 / 1,200
  • 2020 - 1,600 / 2,300
  • 2019 - 6,000 / 8,000
  • 2018 - 7,000 / 10,000
  • 2017 - 11,000 / 13,000
  • 2016 - 13,000 / 15,000
  • 2015 - 14,000 / 16,000

Most Popular Search Landing Pages in 2022

  1. Elected Officials (Democracy) / - 643,933
  2. Inheritance Law & Probate Courts - 444,724
  3. Child Custody & Family Courts - 304,225
  4. Unemployment Law & Unemployment Offices - 226, 905
  5. Bankruptcy & Means Test Calculator & Bankruptcy Court - 154, 203
  6. Wage and Hour Law & Minimum Wage & Tips - 130,914
  7. Obamacare & Rates & Providers - 122,380
  8. Student Loans  - 16,140
  9. Lawyers - 9,149


Inheritance Law pages (444,724 total views)

  1. Local Probate Court Page - 136,065 views
  2. Home page - 66,647 views
  3. Topics - 227,008 views
    1. State Inheritance Tax  (topic 4) - 69,640 page views
    2. How Probate Works (topic 20) - 39,928 page views
    3. How to Handle A Small Estate (topic 7) - 30,034 page views
    4. What you need to know about inheritance law (topic 28) - 21,039 page views
    5. Who Inherits if your Spouse or Parent Dies without a Will? (topic 39) - 20,709 page views
    6. How to get a TaxID number in your state. (topic 19) - 15,858 page views

Bankruptcy pages (154, 203 total)

  1. Means Test - 49,697 page views
  2. Bankruptcy Court - 50,757 page views
  3. Exemptions - 18,342 page views
  4. Topics - 11,703 page views
  5. Bankruptcy Lawyers - 7,070 page views
  6. Filing Bankruptcy - 3,875 page views
  7. Bankruptcy News - 641 page views

Child Custody pages (304,225 total)

  1. County Family Court - 139,499 page views
  2. Home page - 55,932 page views
  3. Topic Pages = 107,054 page views
    1. How to Enforce a Child Custody Order in Your State (topic 5) - 49,244 page views
    2. How State Courts Make Child Custody Decisions  (topic 2)  - 27,104
    3. How Does Child Custody Work in My State?  (topic 7) - 12,427
    4. How To Find A Child Custody Lawyer?  (topic 3) - 9,286

Obamacare pages (122,380 total)

  1. Rates and Providers - 24,288 page views
  2. Home page - 11,311 page views
  3. Topic Pages = 90,511 page views
    1. What State Residents Need to Know About Obamacare  (topic 8) - 35,724
    2. Do I Have to Get Health Insurance in My State? (topic 5) - 25,010
    3. Do I have to get health insurance?  (topic 84) - 2,124

Democracy pages (643,993 views)

  1. Elected Officials - 351,282+256,537 page views
  2. Home page - 256,537 page views
  3. Topic Pages = 36,393 page views
    1. State Legislator List  (topic 44) - 975
    2. Who Are Your States Representatives In Your State's Legislature?  (topic 45) - 871
    3. How to call your Congressional Representative  (topic 16) - 702
    4. How to Confirm or Update Your Voter Registration  (topic 57) - 290

Wage & Hour pages (130,914 total)

  1. Minimum Wage - 42,094 page views
  2. Home page - 25,161 page views
  3. Topic Pages = 63,013 page views
    1. What are my rights to Tips?  (topic 4 or 5) - 39,593
    2. What are my rights to Time Off?  (topic 1) - 9,286

LegalConsumer's Writing Team

Shae Irving

Shae IrvingShae Irving began writing for Legal Consumer in 2013. Her Legal Consumer websites include Obamacare by Zip Code and Child Custody by Zip Code.

Shae has been a legal writer and editor for more than two decades. She has degrees in rhetoric and law from the University of California, Berkeley and she joined the California Bar Association in 1994. For more than two decades, Shae was a member of the editorial team at Nolo Press. At Nolo, she managed the editorial content for the company's best-selling estate planning software, Quicken WillMaker. She also wrote and edited dozens of books and other publications for Nolo. She now works as a consultant for a variety of clients who care about communication that is precise, friendly, and true.

Albin Renauer

albinFor more than 30 years, and 22 editions, Albin Renauer co-authored Nolo's book  How to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. Albin created the means test calculator and Bankruptcy by Zip Code in 2006 as an adjunct to the book, to help people figure out their means test calculation for the county in which they live. That project evolved into the Legal Consumer website, which now spans several consumer law topics. 

Albin is a lawyer and a member of the California Bar Association. Because he focuses on the website, he doesn’t take individual cases. Albin is also a web designer, writer, programmer, and computer geek. Albin is the owner of RelationalVision Database Solutions, LLC, the company that owns and operates Legal Consumer. 

Albin earned his law degree and was a Law Review editor at the University of Michigan Law School (Go Blue!).

After dabbling in public interest law in San Francisco in the early 80's (e.g. Public Advocates, Inc., CRLA, Altshuler & Berzon), he joined the staff of the late Chief Justice Rose Bird for her final two years on the California Supreme Court.

When Justice Bird lost her confirmation election in 1986, Albin wanted to use computers to make the legal system more accessible.

With that in mind, he began a fruitful 17-year relationship with the original owners of  Nolo, the pioneering do-it-yourself legal publisher in Berkeley, California, before it was sold to hedge-fund investors.

At Nolo, Albin managed the development of legal software (WillMaker); managed the development of Nolo's pioneering legal website (winning a Webby Award in 2001), and edited one of the first directories of law on the Internet in 1997 Law on the Net

In 2004, Albin left Nolo to explore ways to "mash-up" Internet technology with relational databases to deliver high-quality, useful, hyper-local legal information to consumers.

The result was this website, LegalConsumer.com.

Albin is proud of the fact that Legal Consumer has been able to remain independent, committed to its spirit of helping consumers, and is not run by bankers or owned by a giant hedge fund. 

J.D., University of Michigan Law School,  1985 (Michigan Law Review)
B.A. in Political Science, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 1981
Jurisdictions Admitted to Practice
California (Inactive status... I don't take individual cases)
Professional & Bar Association Memberships
State Bar of California
NACBA (National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys)

Albin Renauer Author Page on Amazon.com
LegalConsumer.com, Website launched and operated by Albin Renauer, since 2006
How to File Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, Albin Renauer co-author, Nolo, 1989-2021 (32 years!),  ed. 1-22
Law On the Net, Albin Renauer editor, Nolo, October 1997, ed. 1
WillMaker, the Editorial Staff of Nolo, Nolo, April 1993-2016, ed. 1-2017
Nolo's Living Trust for Macintosh, w/ Mary Randolph, Nolo, July 1992, ed. 1

State & Federal Government Sources

Some content is taken from official U.S. Government websites. We reprint this information in context when it can aid in understanding your legal options. 

Lisa Guerin

lisa Guerin Lisa Guerin began writing for Legal Consumer in 2013. Her Legal Consumer websites include Unemployment Law by Zip Code,  and Wage and Hour Law by Zip Code.

Lisa has a degree in American Studies from Williams College and a law degree from U.C. Berkeley. After becoming a member of the California bar in 1991, Lisa practiced employment law in government, public interest, and private practice, where she represented clients at all levels of state and federal courts and in agency proceedings. Lisa has written a number of books and countless articles on employment law for Nolo Press, where she worked as an editor for 15 years. Lisa began writing for Legal Consumer in 2014. In her spare time, she volunteers with local dog shelter and rescue groups and serves on the board of the Friends of Berkeley Animal Care Services. 

Deborah C. England

Deborah EnglandDeborah England is a practicing attorney who represents employees whose rights have been violated, and she is the author of books and articles on employment law issues. Her LegalConsumer websites include Unemployment Law by Zip Code and Wage and Hour Law by Zip Code.

Deborah has a journalism degree from the University of Washington and a law degree from Seattle University. She has practiced employment law in San Francisco for 30 years, representing clients in litigation in state and federal courts. In addition to her trial work, Deborah regularly advises clients on employment issues and negotiates informal resolutions of employment disputes. Deborah has written and co-written books on sexual harassment and family and medical leave law, and has published scores of articles and essays on employment and civil rights law. She speaks frequently on these topics before legal and employment professional organizations, and conducts harassment prevention trainings. Deborah also volunteers as a supervising attorney for the Workers’ Rights Clinic of the Legal Aid Society.

Liza Hanks

Liza Hanks wrote the original  Inheritance Law section Legal Consumer from 2016 through 2022. It is now being revised and maintained by LegalConsumer editors.

Liza is a graduate of Stanford Law School and a mother of two children. She has been an estate planner since 2001, exclusively creating trusts and wills for families of all ages, as well as offering trust administration and probate services. Liza is a Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust Administration & Probate Law, The State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization.

She left a large Silicon Valley law firm in after the birth of her son to start a practice that makes a positive difference to children and families in 2001. Liza’s practice includes wills, trusts, durable powers of attorney and advance health care directives, as well as trust administration and probate. Liza prides herself on making complex legal concepts clear through the use of graphics, examples, story telling and a sense of humor.

In addition to practicing estate planning law, she has written twobooks, Every Californian’s Guide to Estate Planning and The Trustee’s Legal Companion, all published by Nolo and available at amazon.com.

To find out more about Liza's online estate planning courses, go here.

She produces a podcast, Women & Wills, that aims to emower women to protect their loved ones and themselves.

She writes a blog, Women & Wills, to keep you up to date on estate planning issues.

Liza taught Estate Planning and Taxation at Santa Clara University Law School 2003-2006. She is a member of Collaborative Practice Silicon Valley, the Palo Alto Bar Association, and the Kasner Symposium Planning Committee and the Planning Committee for the Silicon Valley Community Foundation and Stanford University Office of Planned Giving’s Conference on Charitable Giving.

To make an appointment with Liza, or to learn more about her practice, visit www.lizahanks.com.

J.D., Stanford Law School, with Honors, 1996
B.A. in Politics, University of California, Santa Cruz, with Honors
Jurisdictions Admitted to Practice
Professional & Bar Association Memberships
State Bar of California
Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Section, Section Member
Silicon Valley Bar Association

Every Californian’s Guide to Estate Planning, Liza Hanks, Nolo
The Trustee’s Legal Companion, Carol Elias Zoll and Liza Hanks, Nolo

LegalConsumer Editors

Some content on the website is the work of several people and can't really be attributed to one person. In that case, we use this moniker.

Google Bard Generative AI w/ Legal Consumer Editorial Review

Some articles are created with traditional legal research and aided by Google Bard.

For some kinds of information, Google Bard can be very helpful. 

But sometimes, it can hiccup on little things like street names or getting the right phone number. But it is better than others at current links. But as with all AI-generated information, you must check it for accuracy. It's wrong about 10 - 20 percent of the time. 

Articles published with this authorship have been generated by an AI tool, then checked for accuracy and/or updated by a human being. 

Chat GPT4 Generative AI w/ Legal Consumer Editorial Review

Some articles are created with the help of ChatGPT4 and reviewed by editors.

Anthropic Generative AI w/ LegalConsumer Editorial Review

Claude.ai is a competitor to ChatGPT but could use some guard rails. It's fearless at trying to please you, so it will make shit up. Citations, cases, etc, facts that don't exist. Be wary. 

Some stuff it does well. But DO NOT rely on answers from Claude AI without checking that they're not fiction. Use it as a source to be used with other sources to see where they match. 


Unnamed Author

Our History

Legal Consumer began in 2006 when owner and founder Albin Renauer created LegalConsumer's "Bankruptcy By Zip Code" section.

As a coauthor of Nolo's How to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy (now in its 22nd edition), Albin spent years trying to make filing for bankruptcy as easy and non-threatening as possible.

In 2005, the U.S. Congress enacted sweeping changes to the bankruptcy law to make filing for bankruptcy more costly and intimidating.

When that law passed, Albin vowed to do something about it. The result was the first Legal Consumer website, Bankruptcy By Zip Code (bankruptcybyzipcode.com)

Albin wanted anyone considering bankruptcy to be able to quickly and easily learn about the full range of resources available to them:

  • free information
  • low-cost, high-quality books
  • online services
  • form preparation services, and
  • full-service bankruptcy lawyers.

Bankruptcy By Zip Code endeavors to gather and organize these resources and present them all in one place.

Legal Consumer.com was always intended to be about more than just bankruptcy. Over time, other distinguished authors have added:

These high-quality information hubs now attract as much traffic as our original bankruptcy information hub.