It’s true. Lawyers have a bad reputation. They are believed to all charge exorbitant fees, billed by the hour (it sure seems to take a lot of hours), only to produce work that they assure you is stellar, but no one else can really tell because it’s written in the erudite and complex language, “legalese.”
But this is not true of all lawyers. There are small business attorneys out there who want to have a real conversation with you, listen to your needs, and discuss solutions with you in plain English. And it is possible to find a small business lawyer who will do this at an affordable rate for your start-up and/or small business.
Here are some things you can do to make a small business lawyer affordable.
Sure, that swanky office downtown looks great. And look at those lake views! And is that desk mahogany? In the past, lawyers thought that if potential clients saw a fancy office in a skyscraper building with rich looking furniture, the clients would equate the swankiness of the surroundings with the brilliance of the lawyer.
And the lawyers were all too happy to pass the expense of these surroundings on to their clients. But now, clients are catching on and wondering what all those billable hours they are being charged are really going toward. Smart entrepreneurs and business owners see through this veil of luxury and look for a smart small business lawyer who will focus less on smoke and mirrors and more on providing quality legal services at a reasonable rate. This is the type of small business lawyer you want to find – one that will efficiently help your business get going and keep growing.
Up-Front Lawyer Pricing
As a small business, you need to account for your costs and expenses. The last thing you need is surprise legal fees because your attorney misjudged how many billable hours a particular task would actually take. Find a small business attorney who will provide upfront pricing and package rates. Many small business lawyers will bundle all startup legal counseling into one package for a set fee. Your small business needs a lawyer who will work with you to set legal fees from the get-go, no surprises.
Reviewing, Not Creating
There is no getting around the fact that you will have to pay your attorney for the time he or she spends counseling your start-up or small business. But there are steps you can take so your small business lawyer is only spending the time absolutely necessary to get the results your growing business needs. Don’t have a lot of start-up capital? Write the business plan yourself, and then have your attorney review it.
If you decide to become an LLC, fill out the proper forms and draft the documents yourself, and then have your attorney review them. Hiring a vendor to create your website? Draft the contract yourself, and then have your attorney review it and suggest changes. This will greatly decrease the amount of time your small business attorney spends on your legal issues, without sacrificing the quality of legal counsel. And less time for your attorney means less legal fees for you. A good small business lawyer will work with you to determine how best to save on legal fees so you have more money to grow your business.
Although lawyers have a reputation for being expensive and unaffordable, it doesn’t have to be this way. Look for a small business lawyer who is willing to work with you on legal fees and pricing.
Michelle Green is a general practice and Chicago small business lawyer with G &G Law.