The Best Ways Small Businesses Can Minimize Legal Costs

If you are a small business owner and you want to keep your legal fees at a minimum, begin by explaining exactly what needs to be done. This means that you must have your priorities in order and know what your attorney’s work will encompass.

Making your choice

Generally speaking, a business owner will find that many lawyers are available in their area, and it is a good idea to do some comparison shopping before you pick one. Remember that most attorneys offer a free initial consultation, which will enable you to focus on the major issues you are facing when you meet. In addition, if you make it known that you are in the midst of selection process, the attorneys you contact will know that they must stand out from the rest if they want you to hire them.

What you can do

While you are trying to determine which attorney you contact best suits your needs, be very specific about your budget for legal matters. Then, the candidates should be able to present a billing structure that is a good match for it. Note that your goal here is to strike a balance between over-spending on a large, prestigious law firm and opting for someone who is just starting out and lacks the proper experience and expertise in order to save money.

Working with your attorney

Once you have made your decision, try to cultivate a sound attorney-client relationship by using alternative billing arrangements, when that seems feasible, and requesting fixed fees. If this is unacceptable, explain that you must have a budget in writing, and make it clear that you want to approve any “over budget” item that crops up.

Saving money in the long run

If you want to economize on your ongoing attorney-client relationship, try to be decisive about your main objectives, although certain minor adjustments may have to be made periodically. If you fail to do that, it can lead to countless meetings and phone calls, multiple revisions and extensive backtracking, all of which will add substantially to your costs.

Another way to reduce your long-term legal expenses is by contacting a lawyer before any business problem reaches a critical stage as a preventive measure. This could include matters such as having a contract reviewed before you agree to it, protecting your intellectual property or forming a corporation the right way.

You can also keep from running up large legal bills by giving your lawyer the material he or she requests as quickly as possible. If you are slow in responding, that means you will be charged billable time when you finally provide the information they have been waiting for and things are being brought up to speed in order to reach some deadline.

Finally, to some extent, you can actually become involved in your legal issues. You have every right to monitor your attorney, and the project management skills you developed as an entrepreneur will enable you to ensure that your legal activities are being conducted in an efficient, cost effective way. With this in mind, be sure that all communications with your lawyer are brief, to-the-point, and only initiated when the situation calls for it.

Byline

This article was composed by Samuel Wadsworth, a freelancer based in the great city of Salem, OR; both people and small businesses often contemplate the desirability of bankruptcy as a solution to financial hardship; however, it is nearly always best to consider Bankruptcy Alternatives before filing, and so it is probably wise to consult with a firm with significant experience in this area.

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