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Why Small Businesses Should Spend More on Legal Advice

By Christopher Coble, Esq. | Last updated on

You've got a lot on your mind as a small business or startup company. First and foremost, there's your product. After that, you're thinking about marketing, design, and technology, and, not least of all, how much all of it is going to cost. One thing that you might not have included in your budget is legal advice.

From incorporation to intellectual property rights, you're going to need the counsel of an experienced attorney, and, unfortunately for small business owners, that advice doesn't always come cheap.

Money Matters

The first rule of spending money is that you get what you pay for. So you could turn to Reddit for legal advice, but proceed at your own peril. And while some low-cost options for legal help -- like boilerplate, DIY incorporation paperwork, contracts, and IP filings, or online resources from small business sites or government entities -- can be more reliable, few things can replace a knowledgeable lawyer.

Small businesses and startups are left with really two options: hire outside counsel for your legal needs, or have your own in-house legal department. Outside counsel can take many forms, depending on your legal needs and the size of your company. You may just have one solo practitioner to whom you'll turn should the need arise, or you might need a medium to large sized firm on retainer.

There's no one-size-fits-all to in-house counsel either. If you're just getting started, one or two attorneys specializing in your market might be enough. But if you're expanding sales or have a few hundred employees, having an on-call legal team devoted to your business and familiar with the ins and outs of the company might be required.

Most entrepreneurs underestimate their startup legal fees, generally because they don't understand that they might need a lawyer for:

  • Deciding how to incorporate their business and finding the right legal structure for your startup;
  • Protecting a new idea, new product, or new technology you want to protect, by having the right intellectual property rights in place;
  • Securing the proper permits for location, operation, and sales; and
  • Paying taxes, on payroll and profits.

You can find an experienced small business or startup attorney in your area using our Lawyer Directory.

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