Let’s face it, lawyers are expensive, and really good lawyers are even more expensive. This is my blog, so I can say it – I think I am (and each of the members of my team are) a really good lawyer. As a result, I help my clients make a lot of money and protect their businesses and assets – but I’m expensive (at least by Iowa standards). However, no matter how much I talk about adding value, for some people and in some circumstances legal services just feel like a pure expense – kind of like insurance – something you hate to pay for, but you know you need.
If this is how you generally view your relationship with your lawyer, my first thought is that it’s probably time to change lawyers, or at least change the way you work with your current lawyer. However, even if you love your lawyer and really value his/her advice, every business has to operate within a budget – which means making risk/benefit/value decisions in everything you do, including purchasing legal services.
Here’s a different way to view your legal services budget – what can you not afford not to do or protect? Here are a few examples of what I believe you cannot afford not to do:
• limit your personal liability with a corporation, LLC or other entity;
• protect your intellectual property and other assets;
• enter into clear agreements with your partners/co-owners as to management, buy-sell, authority and other business and strategic issues;
• adopt clear employment policies, enter into clear agreements with employees and comply with employment laws generally;
• pay your taxes and take advantage of every tax incentive and planning opportunity;
• comply with export laws;
• understand your insurance needs and purchase the right insurance; and
• . . . most importantly, fully understand and consider the legal meaning and effect of every business and legal decision you make or transaction/relationship you enter into – some of them may have “bet the company” consequences – make sure you make sure you make the right bet.