About This Website: LegalConsumer.com

About LegalConsumer.com

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Empowering New Jersey consumers since 2006

Welcome!

Who We Are

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

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.

Our Mission

From day one, our mission has been to:

  1. Create ways to use technology to empower ordinary consumers to protect their rights under local, state, and federal laws — either for free, or as cheaply as possible.
  2. Be a portal to trustworthy, curated links and legal information, in an online sea of schemers and predatory sharks.
  3. Be a free, open resource for consumers seeking to understand and enforce their rights as consumers under local, state, and federal law
  4. Offer all of this information without requiring anyone to give up any personal information about themselves.
  5. To educate consumers on how to get the most out of hiring a lawyer, if they decide to use one.
  6. Remain independent of wealthy donors or investment bankers to do all this.
  7. Try to make the world better without going broke.

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

As of this writing, November 2022, over 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 local elected officials about a consumer issue, or to report fraud to a local state agency...

So, sixteen years and counting... We'll keep improving and updating the site, as time permits, so long as you all keep finding it useful!

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

Our goal is to help you solve your problem quickly so you can 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..

Learn What To Do

We help you learn what to do by providing you with 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 the rights they have and how to take advantage of those rights.

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're hoping to change that, one web visitor at a time. Our goal is to make you a legal savvy consumer, who knows your rights, and knows how to enforce them, or how to hire or contact someone who can.

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 or an insurance broker to make sure you're getting things right. Your situation may be complicated.

Not everyone is a do-it-yourself-er, and sometimes you 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 through an Obamacare insurance broker via the folks at 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.)

Get On With Your Life!

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

We aim to make the hassles of your life a bit less of a hassle, so you can get on with your life.

We hope you found those answers or got closer to finding the best information on the subject. And good for you, for standing up for your rights as a consumer! Bravo!


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

albinSince 1989, Albin Renauer has been a co author of Nolo's book  How to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, now in its 20th edition. 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 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 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 researched, edited, and wrote law books; was a senior developer 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 new ways to "mash-up" Internet technology with relational databases to deliver high-quality, useful, localized legal information to consumers, and created this website.

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. 

Education
J.D., University of Michigan Law School, Law Review, 1985
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)

Publications
LegalConsumer.com, Website launched and operated by Albin Renauer, since 2006
How to File Chapter 7 Bankuptcy, 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

U.S. Government

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 began writing Inheritance Law by Zip Code for Legal Consumer in 2016. 

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.

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

Publications
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.

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 considerably 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 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.