All businesses need legal support from time to time - some need it all the time!
Small businesses must watch their cash flow carefully and large, unexpected legal bills can be extremely difficult to manage. Here are Momentum's Top 10 ways to save money on your legal bills: (spoiler - your best bet is to plan ahead and have a good relationship with a reliable and practical legal team.)
Want to learn how Momentum can help your business grow? Get in touch with our Momentum Small Business Coordinator, Denise.
10. Shop around and interview different legal teams - make it clear that price transparency is important to you.
9. Ask for a quote for the work to be done and ask if the firm has "flat rates" for the sort of work you need done. If you have a budget for the work, be clear about it with the legal team and also be clear that you don't authorize work over that budget without being consulted first.
8. Don't wait until the last minute to ask for help - there can be a "premium" cost for needing work to be done on a rush basis - requiring additional hours/ weekends etc. It might also mean that the most "efficient" person to provide the work isn't available and a more expensive resource is used.
7. DIY can be a great option, but it can also cost you if you miss including the right term in an agreement. If you are going to use the DIY route, use one of the legal document sites, not something found on google or sent to you by a friend or colleague which might miss some important points for you, or not be applicable law for your business.
6. Be organized - collect all paperwork and information you think is relevant and provide it in an organized manner - this will save your legal team a lot of time (time which you pay for!). Ask your team what format they would like the information in - if the team is going to spend time scanning paper documents to electronic documents, you likely want to do this part yourself!
5. Ask your legal team to help you plan out your work and prioritize what is most urgent. Some projects may be able to be pushed out for a few months, allowing you to spread out the cost of the work.
4. If working with a senior lawyer, ask if some of the work can be delegated to a junior lawyer within the firm who's hourly rate will be lower or to the firm's articling student.
3. Ask for the firm policy on "disbursements". Some firms charge for things such as printed documents, photocopies etc. If a document is printed several times for review, you might be charged a per-page fee for that. If there are going to be 3rd party fees such as government filing fees, courier fees, consultant fees, ask for estimates up front. Be clear if you want these sorts of fees restricted or want to pre-approve them.
2. Ask if your legal team provides a method for billing which works within your budget - can legal fees be paid for with regularly monthly payments which can be worked into your business budget?
The Number One Tip for saving money on lawyers: Once you find a good legal team, maintain a continuing relationship with them. Most legal work is more efficiently completed when there is a continuing relationship with the client and a good understanding of what the business is, what challenges are faced and what development plans there are. If you have a continuing relationship with your legal team they can alert you to potential issues and help you navigate trouble spots.
How Momentum Can Help: Momentum offers a variety of ways for small businesses to obtain high quality legal support on a budget, including our small business engagement program. Contact our Small Business Co-Ordinator, Denise, to ask about how Momentum can help your business grow.