Despite the cost of legal services, a lawsuit can cost an awful lot more. This is why good attorneys are in such short demand and it is an area worth researching. Choosing the wrong lawyer can actually cost you more for the services and cost you in terms of losing a case – a double whammy. There are also online legal services that can do the same thing that an attorney can do at a fraction of the cost.
With all of this in mind, we have broken it down into a series of logical components so you can find the right business attorney. We’ve also outlined the best online legal services which can save you money. Keep in mind that the time to find a business attorney is right now. If you are looking for one in the face of a lawsuit, it’s too late.
The Different Types of Attorneys
Attorneys are typically distinguished by their area of expertise. Some of the major areas are outlined here:
By using an online legal directory you can find the lawyer that matches your specific area. Keep in mind that you need to filter further than the categories above. For instance, if you are looking for an intellectual property lawyer, you need to find one in books, music, film, or whatever your issue happens to involve. Other attorneys types include immigration, bankruptcy, estate planning, tax, and corporate law.
Scenarios That Do Require an Attorney
How to find a business attorney? What are the scenarios where you really do need an attorney that cannot be otherwise avoided? While some might be obvious, others can be surprising. The scenarios include:
As you can see, there are quite a number of areas requiring business attorneys. They are needed in a vast number of situations. It is understandable that most business owners have absolutely no intention of getting an attorney to look over every small contract with their expensive hourly rate. At the same time, it is definitely best to have a good attorney to look over the most important agreements.
Just ensure you make good use of the time for consultations. Make out a list of questions that you can ask surrounding the topic so you have an in-depth understanding of it
Scenarios That Don’t Require an Attorney
Next, what situations do not require a small business attorney? In many instances, there are other alternatives and legal automation technology that will inform you as to the correct choice. attorneys with specialized knowledge are well worth the money if you are an international company worth more than $500,000.
But for new businesses, there is often no need to pay top dollar. Especially in the USA. If you get sued for $100,000 with a new LLC, you can file for bankruptcy and start over. Same idea, different name. Obviously, this is not recommended as something to aim for but serves to illustrate the point. The following scenarios will not require a small business attorney:
Clearly, the best approach is to be proactive so that you never need a lawyer. But it is also prudent to have a working relationship with a good team so that you have something to fall back on. Otherwise, you will be desperately searching for an attorney at a time when you are under severe pressure, with little time, and not in the best frame of mind. Other areas where you will certainly not need an attorney include choosing a domain name, writing a business plan, applying for a business loan, applying for an EIN number, and setting up payroll.
Where to Find an Attorney
There is no shortage of places to find an attorney. But the real issue lies in trying to find out what you should pay and the quality of the services rendered. There have even been cases of people pretending to be high-quality attorneys on legal sites. These people (con-artists) charge a huge amount and do not even have a degree. But the platforms fail to perform adequate background checks and people get scammed.
The following are some of the top sites where you can find the best business attorney or a viable alternative to the business attorney. The benefits are that there are multiple reviews of lawyers so you can pick the one that suits your needs and has high ratings. This is a huge advantage over the classical method of finding the right small business attorney.
For more detail on the best places to find a small business attorney and what the alternatives are, check out this comprehensive guide on online legal services. Of course, there are also legal directories and bar associations where you can easily find a qualified lawyer, such as the American Bar Association. The only problem with these lawyers is that they are often not the most cost-effective.
Another great way to find an attorney is by asking your friends and relatives. They can tell you about their experience so you don’t have to engage in what could turn out to be a very costly experiment.
Fees, Charges, and Retainers
Small business attorney fees, charges, and retainers can be very confusing for potential clients. The best thing to do is to arrange a flat fee. For routine services, an attorney might charge you a flat fee for it with a discount for bundled services. This way, you know exactly what you will be paying. This is a method of keeping small business owners happy so they come back again and again. And you will build up a good working relationship with the attorney, over time.
Of course, for litigation, this is virtually non-existent. What you really want to look for in a litigation case is a contingency fee. This means that the lawyer will only get paid if you win the case. This is an added incentive for the lawyer to win and gives you breathing room. You will only have to take care of your own personal legal fees if the case is won. However, lawyers will often charge a lot more for this. A potential problem can also arise for the attorney if a client fires them halfway through the case.
Potentially the best option for a small business owner is the retainer agreement. You pay a fixed fee every month in return for a set amount of legal hours to cover certain areas. This allows increased legal time at a reasonable rate and is excellent for staying on top of all legal issues as they arise, and before them.
The hourly rate for an attorney can range from $75 – $1000. So it definitely pays to understand everything about your options before it is too late. A small number of attorneys might agree to take an equity stake in your business if they take on the case. But with the high failure rate of small businesses, you really have to make it in their interest to do so.
Perhaps the most powerful method for saving on legal fees has already been mentioned – the retainer agreement. You have access to professional legal advice for a set amount of hours each week. You know what you are paying and it is a steady and consistent payment. This is different from the retainer fee, which is simply a trust account you pay into while your attorney handles litigation. When you do hire a lawyer, be sure to understand what the charges are upfront. A flat fee is the best option. If you are being charged hourly, make sure you use it wisely.
The best cost-cutting strategy is possibly to make intelligent use of your available options. With the rise of automation tools and online legal services, there are fewer and fewer instances where you truly need expensive legal services. Once you know what you are looking for, you can easily choose the exact legal service that you need. For example, if your small business regularly creates contracts that need to be updated and stored securely, then LegalNature or LegalZoom are perfect.
Dispute resolution processes are available for litigation and these facilities are often underused. Payroll services, tax filing, and business formation do not require the assistance of a lawyer – so save your money in these areas. Knowing the different types of attorneys and which one you need is also a great way to save money and avoid erroneous expenditure.
Clearly, finding the best small business attorney is no easy task. But it certainly can be done. Just clearly identify the area you need help with and find lawyers that specialize in that area. Next, identify what your budget is and what the costs are. This is critical. Be extremely clear about the fee structure.
If you are not currently involved in litigation, then you can use online legal services for most of the typical duties involved in running a business. You can build a relationship with an attorney without breaking the bank by using these services. They will be there for you when a situation arises.