It’s an unfortunate reality of starting a business that legal expenses can often cost several thousand dollars, depending on the amount of work that needs to be done. As a result, many entrepreneurs simply decide to avoid that financial pain by either ignoring the legal work that needs to be done (such as drafting up a formal agreement between your company and a client or supplier) or doing it yourself. Of course, if you’re unfamiliar with the legal processes of starting a business, you may miss critical steps in the process and leave your business and/or yourself exposed. As a result, any entrepreneur looking to start a business should consult with an attorney who can identify the legal steps that need to be taken and assist with any of those steps that the entrepreneur cannot do herself or himself.
“But what if I don’t have thousands of dollars to pay an attorney?”, you ask. Fortunately, most attorneys who work with entrepreneurs and small businesses are flexible enough to work out payment plans with you. For added financial certainty, you can also try to find an attorney that is willing to handle your matter by flat fee, so that you can plan out your payments before you hire the attorney. Typically, even with a payment plan you’ll be asked to pay at least a portion of the fee up front (either as a retainer for hourly-billing or a percentage of a flat fee) — this is for the attorney’s peace of mind, so that he or she has a little bit more confidence that you will ultimately pay the full fee. It also goes without saying that you should be on-time with your payments as well; you don’t want an attorney who has to spend time trying to get you to pay your bill, rather than being fully focused on the legal tasks at hand. By not paying, you also don’t want to burn your bridges with the attorney who’s helped you get started and is familiar with your business; if you need an attorney’s help down the road, that attorney is not likely to want to assist you if you’ve ducked out on a outstanding fee.
Most attorneys went to law school to help their clients; if we’re in the field of working with entrepreneurs and small businesses, we understand that money can be tight, but we still want to work with you to get your business started. So if you’re launching a new business venture, don’t avoid talking to an attorney simply because you think you can’t afford one — many attorneys are willing to help you set up payment plans in order to be able to afford their services