Small businesses often try to save money by taking care of minor legal details on their own, which may or may not be a good idea. A smart entrepreneur can read a contract and understand the terms of an agreement, but entering into any type of arrangement without getting advice from a lawyer can be a very dangerous decision.
While there may be some instances where avoiding legal fees will work, there are some business activities and events that absolutely require the services of a legal professional. In these particular instances, not using a qualified business attorney could wind up costing your company a lot of money. The ironic twist may be that avoiding the use of an attorney could wind up creating significant legal bills as you try to undo the damage you have done.
You and your company have been researching and developing the product that you feel will elevate you to the next level in your industry. You decide to call it the "Wondrous Widget," and you start investing thousands in developing your marketing plan. The day you put the "Wondrous Widget" on the market, you get a cease and desist letter from a company that has trademarked that name.
A good lawyer can help you to make sure that the name you choose for your product is not already protected in your markets. If you decide to release your product into new markets, then an attorney can give you the all-clear for those new markets as well.
Human resources has become the one area where every small business must invest in a lawyer to avoid lawsuits. In order to keep your company out of trouble, you need to develop a comprehensive recruiting plan and have it reviewed by an experienced attorney. You also need to have all of your interview questions approved, or at least be given language you can use when you are asking improvised questions.
You will also need guidance on what to say when you are rejecting someone for a position. Many rejected employees will ask for reasons that they can later use in a lawsuit against your company. By having your process reviewed by an attorney, you can avoid any of the issues that come with recruiting employees.
It is common with small businesses that companies will team up with each other to reduce costs in areas such as marketing or product development. But before you start working with another company on anything, you should have an attorney look over the arrangement and make suggestions that will protect your company. More than likely, the other company has hired a lawyer to protect their interests. There is nothing wrong with your company doing the same.
Another way that small businesses protect themselves is to get a patent to protect their ideas. But if you do not have an attorney take care of your patent process, then this could come back to bite you later on. This is especially true if you intend to sell your product internationally.
Running a small business is a lot of work, and many owners try to keep costs down by taking on even more work for themselves when they don't hire a lawyer. While avoiding legal fees may work on some aspects of running a business, there are several instances where hiring an experienced attorney is the only way business should be done.