In martial arts lore, the white belt is known to be the most dangerous practitioner of all the belt levels. Why? Partially because they lack the skill and experience to understand that while the framework of a particular action may be standard, each situation and context for that action is unique. In other words, defending a punch may generally be a 3-step process, but every punch is different—angle, speed, direction, even the reason for the punch, and that combination of factors will dictate an appropriate response. Similarly, the small business owner who addresses a legal issue by using fill-in legal forms found online puts the company at great risk for legal exposure because the form cannot possibly address the unique circumstances of the business and the particular situation.
While many small business owners may shudder at the idea of paying an attorney to write letters, draft agreements, or deal with difficult situations, the fact is that investing in an attorney is money well spent. Legal expenses are a necessary cost of doing business, and viewing your attorney as your ally instead of just another line item on an expense sheet will be one of the best decisions the company could make.
Many small business owners use downloadable forms, fill-in wizards, and legal-in-a-box software as low-cost substitutes for the services of an attorney. Be aware that using these ‘one-size-fits-all’ forms may end up costing your business much more than they save. A 2012 Consumer Report® study utilized various ‘Do It Yourself’ legal websites to create certain legal forms and then presented those documents to multiple law professors for evaluation. The evaluators found problems with flexibility, lack of compliance with state/local law, and the possibility of adverse and unintended consequences. As with most things, you get what you pay for!
Like a consultant, a good attorney is able to step into the shoes of the small business operator and, through the lens of the unique business operation, view and address the particular legal needs. Avoiding legal counsel as a purely money-based decision will likely lead to several unanticipated costs, including wasted time, damage to reputation, and legal costs required to salvage a situation created by DIY documents.
You Can Call Me Directly
If you run a small business or just need legal consultation, I am here to help. I have extensive experience in a number of different areas of law, business, and accounting, and take pleasure in providing a superior level of collaboration and communication. Small business owners need to work with an attorney to ensure that their business uses well-thought-out processes and agreements designed to facilitate smooth operations. Each business has specific and unique needs that our legal services are designed to address. Please feel free to contact me. Remember, you get what you pay for!