Time and time again I hear small business owners say that they cannot afford a lawyer. They usually follow that statement with something like “Hopefully, I’ll never need one”. This is simply a HUGE mistake and a bad business practice.
Would you invest 50% of your companies earnings in the stock market but wait until you’ve lost most of the money before you hire an investment banker? Would you wire your business for electricity but wait until after the building catches on fire before you decide to consult an electrician? No? Then why spend thousands of dollars into building a business only to lose it, or a large amount of its revenue in a lawsuit because you did not consult a lawyer, and tried to do all the legal work?
An attorney should be an essential part of your business. In the start-up phase of your company, you should anticipate ongoing legal expenses. You should desire to have an ongoing business relationship with an attorney so that he or she can provide regular consultations to help your company avoid criminal and civil liability. Waiting until after you are sued or sanctioned to consult a lawyer is like waiting until you are very sick before going to the hospital. Little good can come from it and the money that was saved by avoiding legal consultation is often lost in a judgment or defending suit. This is is especially true if your business does transactions with other businesses.
BUT LAWYERS ARE SOOOOO EXPENSIVE!
It is true that business attorneys are not cheap and they shouldn’t be. The practice of business law is very complex and meticulous. If a business attorney is billing anything less than $150.00 per hour you may want to question the quality of service. However, It is possible to save money and find a good business attorney.
Attorneys at large firms are VERY expensive. Big law firms have big overhead and pay big salaries. Those costs get passed to you. You also pay for the firm’s reputation. Even the young lawyers at big firms are billed to companies at $400-$600 per hour right out of law school. However, smaller firms have less overhead and less attorneys salaries to pay out. They can often offer billing at lower rates such as $150-$400 depending on the attorneys experience. In addition, some smaller firms are sometimes willing to offer lower rates for a commitment to ongoing business.
OK SO WHAT SHOULD I DO NOW?
Contact a lawyer immediately! Inform them that you are looking to build a business relationship and that you are seeking regular legal counsel for your company. The meeting can be very informal. In fact, I often take meetings of this variety during lunch. I save the office meetings for the more serious issue specific cases where a company is already being sued.
During the meeting, you should get a feel for the attorney and see if you feel that you all can have a workable relationship. Also, check and see if the attorney has experience in your industry. If all goes well, offer to allow the attorney to come and see how the business is operated so the he or she can become more familiar with the company. I often make site visits and see the way my clients business is ran. Your goal should be to help the attorney help you avoid liability. Do not look at the lawyer as an expense. Consider the lawyer to be long term investment and asset to your business.
Should you have any questions regarding your business, please feel free to reach out to our office at 832-930-0529 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
None of the information given here is intended to be legal advice and it should not be construed as such.