Businesses Need Attorneys
I wrote an article for Under30CEO about the importance of having a lawyer for your business legal needs. In the article, I outlined 4 reasons why entrepreneurs should have an attorney. They were:
- Your contract drafting skills suck
- You need legal advice
- You probably have legal problems that you aren't even aware of
- You can't afford to offer payoffs
[Click here to read the full article on Under30CEO.com]
I've noticed that many young business owners are using Legal Zoom and similar companies to obtain legal documents such as contracts. Others try to DIY their companies legal needs. Legal Zoom is a gamble. You don't know what you're going to get, they do not guarantee their services in any way and despite the image they project, there is no attorney involved in your case. I honestly believe that business owners are better off doing their own research and drafting their own legal documents, rather than using Legal Zoom or the like. However, both options are far from ideal for the same reason – no legal counsel. The real value of having an attorney is not drafting contracts or other legal documents. The real value is in the experience and education of the attorney that allows them to provide legal advice.
When Things Go Wrong
Lately, my happy law firm that was created to help young entrepreneurs and business owners achieve their goals of starting and managing successful businesses, is less happy. Why is that? Because most of my new clients are caught up in business disputes with their business partners, customers and vendors. Why? Because they did not have an attorney draft a contract to govern the relationship. Business disputes are expensive; if you have to go to court, its going to cost you a lot more in attorney's fees and if you go to court without an attorney, it may cost you even more than that. They are also incredibly time consuming. What bootstrapping entrepreneur do you know has plenty of extra time and money? You see my point.
But the worst part of dealing with the business disputes of my Gen Y clients, is that in every business dispute I've dealt with a (usually simple) contract drafted by an attorney would have prevented the dispute. Let me say that again: in every business dispute I've dealt with, a contract drafted by an attorney would have prevented the dispute.
A lawyer-drafted contract can't prevent all disputes but it can prevent most small business disputes that an entrepreneur is likely to have. And, as I said, its not just about drafting legal documents. Obtaining regular legal advice and an annual legal audit are essentials for a healthy business.
Who the Hell Can Afford an Attorney?
Its one thing to know that your business has a better chance of surviving if you have an attorney on your team. Its another to actually come up with the money to pay an attorney. Its no secret that attorneys tend to be expensive, especially for a bootstrapping business. However, there are many attorneys using creative and innovative methods to provide accessible legal counsel.
Now I am one of them. I serve Gen Y entrepreneurs and business owners because I actually care about helping people live their best life by starting their own ventures. So I have created new packages of legal services meant to provide all of what young businesses need and none of what they don't need, at a monthly price that works for them (instead of an upfront lump sum). My new packages are called Savvy Entrepreneur Annual Plans. They include periodic conferences with a licensed attorney (that's the legal advice), between 1-4 legal documents (that's the contract drafting), an annual legal checkup (that's the legal audit) and discounts on additional services. There are different levels of service to accommodate tiny, small, medium and large companies and budgets. Additionally, these plans work for the DIY'ers (you can use the conferences to get the legal advice and an opinion on your next deal and/or contract), the Legal Zoomers (you can obtain your contract through the Online Law Office quickly) and those who want a full service experience. I've also added the ability for clients to obtain just a contract and will be adding the option to obtain just quick legal advice through my Online Law Office.
Now You Have No Excuse
Now you, young jedi-business warrior, have no excuse for not protecting your business by investing in legal counsel. Need a lawyer in your state? Google the name of your state + ‘virtual law office' to find attorneys who offer unbundled legal services online in your state.
What do you think? Do these plans make legal services accessible for you and your business? How would you tweak them to make them better? What creative ways are you coming up with to meet your client's needs?