It is very possible that your small business will need legal help at some point. Issues such as structuring a business, filing taxes and drawing up contracts barely scratch the surface. Your business might have to deal with professional liability issues or worker claims, for example. Because the fees of many attorneys go into the hundreds of dollars per hour, it is a smart idea to explore inexpensive options. Here is a look at six low-cost alternatives to pricey attorneys.
1. You Draw up the Documents, and an Attorney Reviews Them
Some reputable websites offer solid legal templates. Some have forms on business topics that include incorporation, contracts, hiring, service contracts and much more. Under the business contracts category alone, you will find a long list of documents. Whether you are dealing with a joint venture agreement, a marketing agreement, a copyright request, a photo release or something else entirely, an online legal site might well have it. You can work from the best-matching template there, and after everything is in order, pay an attorney to review the documents for legal compliance and issues you might have missed. By bringing the attorney in only at the end, you save potentially hundreds of dollars per legal matter.
2. Prepaid Legal Plans
For a relatively low monthly fee, you could prepay for simple legal services such as document and contract review. In many cases, the law firm you contract with will provide a discount on other services such as estate planning or bankruptcy filings should the need for them arise. It is important that you check on the background of any firm before agreeing to prepaid services. Ask about who will handle your business matters, for example, whether it will usually be one person or whoever is available that day, and any applicable experience the person or people have. Check that you understand all covered services and future discounts your business might qualify for.
The nonprofit group SCORE focuses on helping small businesses through mentoring, whether it is in person, via email or through the phone. Your business mentor, should you choose to sign up with this organization, likely will not be a lawyer but may have faced similar legal issues and be able to guide you through the process. In some cases, your mentor would be able to refer you to a trusted attorney, and no matter what, SCORE offers an array of free insight on legal issues.
4. Know Where to Go to Research Issues
The websites of many federal agencies are structured to help you find out more about legal concerns you might have. Do you need to brush up on discrimination laws? Check out the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Have environmental concerns? Try the Environmental Protection Agency’s website. Other common resources include the Internal Revenue Service and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The website of the Small Business Administration can also be useful.
5. Professional Organizations
If you belong to a professional organization, check to see if it has a legal staff that provides legal advice. Alternatively, do research on possible professional groups you could join and any legal services they offer.
6. Legal Clinics
With a legal clinic, you might be able to find free legal help, whether it is from law students in training or experienced attorneys working pro bono. If you are in the Los Angeles area, for example, you might want to contact the University of Southern California Small Business Clinic.As you can see, you have a few options for inexpensive legal help when you are a small-business owner. If nothing else, you can try to set up a free consultation and get insight into how to proceed with a legal matter. However, do check on the credentials of any attorney before meeting him or her.
The content on our website is only meant to provide general information and is not legal advice. We make our best efforts to make sure the information is accurate, but we cannot guarantee it. Do not rely on the content as legal advice. For assistance with legal problems or for a legal inquiry please contact you attorney.