4 Reasons Why You Need an Attorney & How You Can Afford One : Under30CEO 4 Reasons Why You Need an Attorney & How You Can Afford One : Under30CEO
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4 Reasons Why You Need an Attorney & How You Can Afford One

| January 24, 2011 | 9 Comments

law-books-and-gavelI know, I know. You are a college-educated, technologically savvy Gen Y entrepreneur. All you need is your Mac book, an internet connection and your just a Google search away from handling all of your company’s legal needs, right?

Oh. So. Wrong!

Here’s four reasons why:

1. Your Contract Drafting Skills Suck!

I have clients who are amazing entrepreneurs running very successful businesses and yet have drafted the worst looking “contracts” I have ever seen and sent them to me in an email that says, “Is this okay?” No, it is not okay!! Attempting to customize a contract template will often fail to protect you and your business because you likely leave very important things out, you put non-important things in, you use unclear language and you do not know the law. Unless you are willing to read, study and stay current on the relevant statutes and case law in your state, hire a lawyer to draft your contracts.

2. You Need Legal Advice.

Anyone can file the Articles of Organization to form an LLC. But how do you know that the LLC is the best entity for your business? Legal services involve more than just documents. Lawyers are trained to see the big picture not just the right now. Having a lawyer’s counsel to avoid unnecessary exposure to liability (i.e., to prevent you from getting screwed) and to advise you on best courses of action for success from a legal point of view is essential for all CEO’s.

3. You Probably Have Legal Problems That You Aren’t Even Aware Of.

Your “simple” customer agreement, handshake deal with your interns or lack of privacy policy for your website may be exposing you to liability. Lawyers are trained to spot every issue that could possibly come up in your business. In fact, that is literally how we learned in law school. Law school exams are big long stories about Joe CEO and all the things going on in his business and to pass we had to spot every possible legal issue in the story. So, after three years of that, we’re really good at it. It’s a good idea to do an annual legal audit of your business with an attorney to determine and protect against all the potential “issues” in your business.

4. Because You Can’t Afford To Offer Payoffs.

Unlike Mark Zuckerberg you probably can’t afford to payoff your pissed off ex-partner or client who was harmed (physically or financially) by your product. So you can pay a lawyer now or pay a lawyer later. What I mean by that is having a lawyer handle your legal needs on the front end substantially reduces the likelihood that you will need them to handle a legal dispute on the backend. If you don’t, then you may wind up in court for something that could have been prevented by a contract. Any lawyer will tell you that their fees for providing legal advice and contract drafting are way, way cheaper then the fees you’ll pay for representation in a lawsuit.

But I Can’t Afford an Attorney!

Of course you can! In this new and improved Web 2.0 world real licensed attorneys are implementing wallet friendly innovations to provide full legal services to clients on a budget (and who isn’t on a budget these days?). Flat fees, reasonable monthly retainers and online law offices are some of the innovative devices being employed. Stephanie Kimbro, an attorney and Online Law Practice guru, recently posted a comprehensive list of articles from 2010 about lawyers who are using the internet to provide affordable legal services to clients. Everyone from the Wall Street Journal to the New York Times is talking about how legal services are being offered online. And, no, we’re not talking about Legal Zoom or the like. These are real lawyers (not paralegals) offering full service legal counsel (which means legal advice and customized document drafting not just fill-in contract templates) online.

So now you have no excuse. Keep your trusted legal counsel on speed dial and handle your business like the pro you are!

Rachel Rodgers is the owner of Rachel Rodgers Law Office, the only law firm she knows of that is tailored to Generation Y entrepreneurs. Rachel is an under 30 CEO as well as a blogger. When she is not practicing law, you can find her drinking East African coffee in a bookstore or traveling in a developing country (or drinking East African coffee in a bookstore in a developing country).

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Category: Startup Advice

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  • Anonymous

    Great post Rachel, compelling reasons to spend a little now, rather than a lot later. I started doing legal audits in my first business (an outdoor coaching business) as I was dealing with people hanging off ropes but everyone has different liabilities and they can even be the ones you didn’t even think about.

  • http://www.rachelrodgerslaw.com Rachel Rodgers

    Thanks for your comment, John! You are absolutely right! Even in the most mundane business, say an accounting practice, there can be legal liabilities that you are exposed to. Hiring a lawyer may not seem all that important to most bootstrapping entrepreneurs initially but, if and when things go bad, the decision to hire a lawyer early on may save your business.

  • http://www.octechlaw.com Michael Ridley aka Alaskanpoet

    Back in the 60′s there was a classic commercial, a natural evolution of a wise Engish saying–penny wise, pound foolish–the service station attendant holding a Fram Oil Filter standing in front of a car with the hood up, stating “Pay me now or pay me later.” The obvious implication a $10 filter was a better deal than a new engine. Your article is on point. Some additional ideas: (1) Spell check is not idea check–cannot tell you how many times an agreement drafted by a client is a labyrinth of conflicting ideas and misplaced concepts. (2) Business is war; do what MASH does–practice triage–an experienced lawyer can tell you what you need to do today and what needs to be done tomorrow. (3) Marketing in the emerging company legal world often consists of flat fees, accruing fees and discounted fees with the carrot of a loyal, dependable client so a lawyer does not have to spend hours networking, speaking, writing, and passing out and receiving business cards (which given the fact that most lawyers do not have an acceptable CRM system is an exercise in futility). (4)The delivery of legal services is a lot like the Battle of Thermopylae—at point of contact it’s one Spartan battling one Immortal while his 10,000 friends are figuring out how to bill you. You do not need a large firm with a bunch of associates with 2500 billable hour targets. (5) Any lawyer can tell you what the law is or draft an agreement, the good and creative ones will open up their Outlook to see how they can assist you. If in Orange County, check out http://www.octechlaw.com and if on this Robert Burns day you want to rest your mind for a few minutes, go to http://alaskanpoet.blogspot.com

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