Why your small business should hire a lawyer

hammer of justice

Have you considered hiring an in-house attorney yet? Maybe you should. Some companies need a dedicated counselor who will guide the business through tough legal problems.

For some companies, in-house legal counsel should in fact be the very first addition. Some businesses need in-house counsel far faster than other businesses will. You may be one of them if:

  • You’re creating new technology which might require you to apply for or protect patents.
  • Your business involves the creation of intellectual property.
  • You are working in a field which is at a high risk for liability or litigation.
  • You have high legal bills right now, and/or highly unpredictable legal costs which are threatening your cash flow.
  • You are working in an industry which has a lot of regulatory requirements that are difficult to understand and navigate.

Here are a few of the benefits of bringing a lawyer in-house.

In-house lawyers develop deep knowledge of your business.

When you hire a law firm you are one of many clients. By contrast, in-house attorneys are free to focus on your business issues and nothing but your business issues. They get coffee with your employees, hear the daily challenges, and understand the business strengths and weaknesses. They come to understand your company as nobody else can.

This means they are able to develop elegant, rich solutions that can protect your company even better than your outsourced counterparts. This elegance also comes from the amount of focus and energy they’re pouring into their work.

You get lightning-fast response to issues that need attention right now.

There is such a thing as a legal crisis, and you don’t always have time to wait for your outsourced law firm to get around to you. If a patent troll is about to steal the entire foundation of your business out from under you then you need someone who can address the problem and act immediately.

Moreover, you need someone who can protect you before issues arise. Ideally, an in-house lawyer is working tirelessly to identify potential liabilities, and to develop proactive solutions for addressing those issues before they become a problem.

In-house lawyers cost less (sometimes).

If you’re already spending a lot of your company’s money on legal costs than in-house counsel is definitely worth considering. A salaried employee isn’t adding line-items to an invoice every time you stop him or her for a 5 minute chat.

Sometimes the cost savings is negligible, but the cost-control isn’t. Legal costs can fluctuate and vary quite a bit from month to month. For some companies, having a fixed cost can be a lifesaver for cash flow reasons.

In-house lawyers can provide strategic business input.

J.P. Morgan once said: “I don’t want a lawyer to tell me what I cannot do. I hire him to tell me how to do what I want to do.”

For most companies this doesn’t mean you’re going to use your in-house counsel to figure out how you can act unethically or to cover yourself while you sell shoddy products. It does mean successfully navigating a complex legal system to stay competitive in a tough marketplace…especially if your business relies on overturning established business models. TechCrunch provides great examples:

“Airbnb challenged local hotel zoning laws, Uber took on taxi licensing requirements, and Pinterest built a business around posting copyrighted images. Start-up companies that simply follow the rules risk getting left behind. The right lawyer can mean the difference between pushing the envelope and breaking the law.”

If you’ve been struggling to figure out how to do what you want to do—if, in fact, your very business model depends upon it—then it’s time to call up your local legal recruiter. In the end, ensuring your business survives and thrives is the biggest benefit of all.

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John Dietrich

John is the Digital Marketing Manager for Search Party responsible for implementing, tracking, and optimising marketing efforts in the digital space. He's a physics and psychology hobbyist with a strong belief of putting people first in business and life.

8 thoughts on “Why your small business should hire a lawyer

  1. Alise Harper says: August 9, 2016 at 5:19 am

    My parents just bought a small business. I like how you mentioned how having a lawyer working with the business is very beneficial. I think this is a good idea because the lawyer knows all the legal stuff and can help guide the company if ever caught in a legal matter. I will definitely show this to my parents. Thanks for the information!

  2. Derek Mcdoogle says: September 16, 2016 at 9:26 am

    You stated that for some companies, in-house legal counsel should, in fact, be the very first addition. Do most small businesses choose and in-house attorney instead of a firm? My brother has been wanting to start his own business since he was in college. Hiring some reputable legal counsel could be very beneficial.

  3. Luke Smith says: December 8, 2016 at 9:11 am

    Thanks for your comment about how an in-house attorney can focus exclusively on your business and can develop a deep knowledge of it. I can definitely imagine how an attorney with an extensive knowledge of your business practice could be very useful if ever you wound up in a tense legal situation. They would probably be able to help you reach business settlements as well.

  4. Vivian says: December 20, 2016 at 10:01 am

    A great point that a business attorney who is a member of your staff won’t be constantly adding to his or her bill every time you ask a question! Definitely worth hiring an in-house attorney if your business can afford the hire. Especially if you seem to run into a lot of legal issues on a regular basis.

  5. Uma Nadarajah says: January 7, 2017 at 11:33 am

    I absolutely agree that in-house lawyers are more useful for any legal issues because they know the inner workings and details of the business that an external lawyer just couldn’t know. Additionally, I think another benefit is that having an in-house lawyer can potentially prevent the business from several legal disasters as the issues can be dealt with preemptively.

  6. dgslaw says: January 11, 2017 at 3:36 am

    Hiring a business attorney for small business is important as a lawyer will help you take right decisions related to business contracts, agreements, negotiations, business acquisitions and so on.Thanks!!

  7. Scott says: February 4, 2017 at 4:28 am

    I can see why it could be better for the company to have an in-house attorney if you constantly using the attorney’s services. I think that it would be good to think about how much you are spending in a six month period and then decide if hiring someone to come on full time would be better financially. Bringing them on seems like a good way for them to get to know your business a little bit better as well.

  8. Steve Daniel says: February 22, 2017 at 7:40 am

    So true its always better to have a lawyer as you employ he can focus exclusively on your business and can develop a deep knowledge of it. And I believe lawyers are capable of creating focus oriented strategies, he can be a business development manager as well

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