Legal services for small businesses

Service Business

Legal services for small businesses?

A large firm usually has a separate legal department, and the average one employs at least one lawyer. Some companies also cooperate with law firms specialized in a given industry. What about the smallest entities? How can they provide legal protection for themselves?

Small companies function in trade on an equal footing with large companies and often compete with them. It's just that this fight can be unequal. Large enterprises have an army of lawyers ready to take advantage of the slightest stumbling of competitors or even smaller subcontractors to their advantage. The small ones usually do not benefit from any legal aid, remaining helpless with their problems.

Small businesses do not seek legal aid

It may seem that little David has no chance against the mighty Goliath. This does not have to be true, however, as long as the smaller one uses his wits, which in this case may be based on the support of professionals. Unfortunately, still few small entrepreneurs reach for such help.

- Among sole proprietorships, only 13% use the services of a lawyer, and in the case of companies employing two to nine people, 29% - quotes the statistics Paweł Buszkiewicz, managing director of the Gdynia-based Arkana law firm.

Why is this happening? Most often, entrepreneurs are concerned about the costs of legal services and therefore try to face problems on their own. In addition, entrepreneurs who conduct their activities to a very limited extent, e.g. for the benefit of only one entity, often base their mutual relations on trust and do not pay much attention to legal issues. There are also those who, instead of looking for a law firm with experience in their industry, assume in advance that they will not find such a specialized team of lawyers easily.

- Legal services for an enterprise can be compared to a suit. The best is tailor-made - says Paweł Buszkiewicz, who does not agree with the view that only large companies can afford permanent legal services. In his opinion, even the smallest ones can choose legal services exactly to their needs.

- The scope of permanent service is always tailored to the client's needs. Most often, cooperation consists in solving current legal issues, preparing or reviewing contracts and documents, debt collection and conducting court disputes. It is important, however, that the scope of cooperation is usually determined flexibly, because when concluding an agreement with a law firm, it is impossible to predict all the legal issues that the company will face in the near future. - explains the director of the Arkana law firm.

Fear (of cost) has big eyes

Even if an entrepreneur is aware of how much cooperation with a law firm would help in the functioning of his company, the assumed costs can be a barrier. Firstly, however, they are not always as high as expected by business owners, and secondly, different settlement models are used in practice. Therefore, even if a company does not find a solution suitable for itself in one office, it is worth looking further.

A popular solution is to settle services on the basis of a fixed flat rate, but in the case of small companies it may be more advantageous to use a negotiated hourly rate or pricing individual services each time. The monthly cost of servicing depends on many factors, so it is difficult to give an average or typical rate for a small company. The price will depend primarily on the subject of the order, its complexity and time-consumption.

- Some help in estimating the monthly cost of legal services may be the answer to the question of how much would it cost to hire a lawyer in a company on a permanent basis. Would it be enough to hire one half-time attorney-at-law, or would the number of legal issues in a given company require the work of several lawyers - suggests Paweł Buszkiewicz.

If we already know that in our small employment company it would be enough for a lawyer employed e.g. on a quarter time basis, estimating the expected cost of legal services should not be particularly difficult.

Before it's too late…

The help of a lawyer in a small business is sometimes underestimated. And yet an entrepreneur usually does not know the details of laws, regulations or the most frequently used interpretations and does not have time to study them very carefully on his own. Ignorance of the law, however, does not release from the obligation to obey it. It is therefore easy to find a situation in which simple ignorance will have serious consequences for the company.

The lawyer will help you in many situations that are important from the point of view of your business. He will also advise you on what steps to take to make our business develop as well as possible. Let's not forget that such cooperation will relieve the entrepreneur who will gain more time and energy to run his business, instead of having to deal with legal problems.

In order for this help to be authentic and felt by the owner of a small business, it will be most beneficial for him to establish permanent cooperation with the law firm. Permanent legal service will allow you to ask for help not only from time to time, when the accumulating problems put the entrepreneur against the wall, but also to use support on a regular basis as soon as a problem arises.

- Unfortunately, it often happens that entrepreneurs report to law firms too late. Then, even in simple cases, it may be impossible to take effective action, for example due to the lapse of court deadlines for submitting relevant letters. - notes Paweł Buszkiewicz.

When looking for a law firm suitable for his company, an entrepreneur should pay attention to its experience, information flow, and speed of operation. It is worth choosing modern law firms that are up to date with frequently changing regulations, as well as technical innovations.

A professional law firm is one that approaches each client individually. We will know it after the fact that, before presenting the client with a binding offer, he will analyze his activity beforehand.