Too many startups underestimate the importance of having professional legal support in their business.
Legal support is one of the two services that every startup absolutely must-have when it is starting out.
Unfortunately, lawyers tend to be pricey creatures, sometimes charging several hundred pounds an hour for the simplest of services.
This article lays out some cost-effective options for obtaining legal advice for your startup or new business.
But first, some basics:
Running a business is probably 40 per cent accounting, 40 per cent legal, and 20 per cent everything else.
Sure, you need to market and conduct sales to get in business. But what if the sales you got in are not adequately described in an iron-clad business contract?
What if that incredible marketing campaign you just planned happens to infringe on someone’s trademark? Or what if the marketing action requires certain permissions, as in the case of flyer distribution, and you didn’t know about these restrictions?
Having a lawyer to hand to ask for advice on each of these matters is crucial.
It is also imperative to be well stocked up on multiple legal business documents so that you don’t have to go to a lawyer for every single new client you get on board.
The plethora of things that can go wrong for failing to stay up-to-scratch on your business’s legal needs can include:
Fortunately, there are alternatives out there.
Just as the medical profession is now changing to a telemedicine and telehealth model where you can visit multiple practitioners simply by using the video camera on your phone, so is the world of legal services adapting to meet the needs of a more tech-savvy generation.
The first option available is, of course, the internet in general.
The internet is loaded with articles and how-tos and videos offering legal advice.
Many of these articles come with bold disclaimers on them, explaining that their advice should be double-checked by a professional.
Our recommendation is to use such freely available information with due caution. Cross-reference everything you read and verify that the information really is correct.
Even so, such a method of seeking legal “advice” should only be reserved for the most mundane and general of subjects, never for active litigation where the advice of a legal professional is crucial.
Hunting out the internet for business legal advice has other flaws:
The UK government’s website is a fantastic place for legal advice relating to businesses based in the UK.
The main pro about this website is that it is guaranteed to be accurate.
The website is, however, a little complex to navigate and read. The website doesn’t seem to make too much of an effort to offer advice in “plain English”, either.
Some banks offer legal advice or some kind of package that covers your legal fees.
Barclays, for instance, offers legal insurance for a variety of legal costs. (Although there is no pricing on their webpage as of this writing for such insurance, which is always a red flag when it comes to looking for something affordable.)
Some banks have a page of information dedicated to legal tips.
Again, such info is usually reliable, but the legalese can be difficult to wade through.
Legal clinics are a way for law students to gain experience in working with real-life cases.
These clinics often require you to make an appointment and then to drive to their offices to have a face-to-face meeting.
Different clinics specialise in different aspects of the law (business, family, child, etc.) so you might need to do some hunting to find a clinic near you that offers you the business advice you need.
Of course, in this world of fast-paced services, waiting for an available appointment can be frustrating if your legal issue is urgent.
Legal clinics tend to specialise in pro bono work.
The world has gone digital. Also, with new restrictions in place as a result of needing to curtail the spread of disease, meeting in person is now more cumbersome.
A legal advice helpline is the ideal solution for businesses who are seeking legal advice, provided the helpline matches the following criteria:
The main problem with many of the aforementioned services is that they do not put you in touch with
an accredited, professional and experienced lawyer. The second problem is that they can be slow if you need to wait for an available appointment.
This can often also be true of making an appointment with law firms.
The Start My Business legal advice hotline is available 24/7 and will put you in touch instantly with a legal professional who is qualified to give you legal advice instantly.
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