Obtaining Small Business Legal Help on a Tight Budget

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Getting Legal Help for your business

Legal Help Doesn’t Have to be Pricey

Starting a business can be a very exciting moment in the life of a new company. However, it also has the highest risks for getting into legal trouble, mainly because many startups can’t afford to pay for an attorney-on-call, i.e. on retainer. A simple contract for a few simple meetings a month can cost $1,000 or more. However, there are ways a startup owner can still get basic, good legal help at a very low cost, providing much of the same counsel that would be given by a traditional attorney.

Self-Research

There are a number of resources out where small business owners can get direct, clearly-written legal help on a variety of business topics covering everything from writing a contract to incorporation to taxes. Nolo Press represents probably the best, most relied-upon resource, providing both free information on the Internet as well as technical manuals that are very practical in approach. Any smart startup owner should have a small library of Nolo books on-hand or in electronic format for easy reference. The information provided in these publications can be invaluable for a business, allowing owners to avoid dozens of rookie mistakes and pitfalls beginning a business.

Another good source for self-help on legal matters tends to be websites that provide pre-screened forms for general business and legal needs. LegalZoom is a long-standing source for form-building, allowing a business owner to find the right type of legal document and then plunk the necessary names and information into the appropriate blanks. While regular attorneys may charge hundreds of dollars to write legal documents, many start with the same approach, obtaining their boiler-plate language from legal advice publications using the same model of writing.

Hiring Freelance Help

Frequently, the legal help needed can just be a one-time task for creation and legal review. Small business owners can easily take advantage of auction-style labor websites such as E-lance where everyone from software engineers to attorneys bid on projects. The bidding environment provides competitive pricing, and business owners can vet the attorney-service provider before ever agreeing to hire them for a project. Payment can easily be made ‘contingent upon satisfaction’, requiring the provider to revise and improve the work until the business owner is satisfied with the results. This sort of approach puts the business in control of the task rather than relying blindly on a traditional attorney’s office.

Law Students

Many law students halfway through law school are also hungry for work and, more important, references. A good business relationship can score legal help for cheap through these students in their second or third year, while providing them with a good reference for their own hiring needs upon graduation. The approach provides a win-win solution for the business and the student. Further, the business can use the above methods to double-check the student’s work if questionable. Even combined, the cost of a law student’s work can be a one-time thing, temporary and far cheaper.