The average hourly rate for legal services for small business can be from $100 per hour in a small town to over $1000 per hour at a big city law firm for a senior partner. With these rates, many small business owners are looking for possible ways to get free legal advice for their business.
If these business owners know where to look, they will know that free legal services for small businesses are available, even though it is not easy to get free and cheap legal services. While they can’t completely leave out the help of a business attorney, they can find free legal services through some of the tips below.
Getting Free Legal Services for Small Business
It is common to know that small business owners seek legal help only when they have landed in legal hot water or have been sued. These individuals need to know that it takes time to find free legal advice. That is why people must take this route when they have time on their side.
However, they may need to consider hiring an attorney as soon as possible to negotiate the best rate possible if there is plenty of risk or money on the table, need a deadline, or have a legal emergency. They can get free legal advice through these ways:
Attend Pro Bono Clinics and Free Legal Workshops
Lawyers must complete free or pro bono hours each year set up by state bar associations responsible for licensing state attorneys and regulating these attorneys’ works. There are several ways for lawyers to satisfy these requirements. One of them is participating in free legal workshops or clinics.
Many organizations offer free legal aid:
- Law Schools can give business owners basic guidance about legal issues from professors and law students in their clinics. Many law schools even have workshops specifically to serve small business clientele and entrepreneurs.
- State bar associations give free legal aid hotlines. Some city bars have phone numbers for low-income residents to call and get free legal advice on some matters, such as small business topics.
- Public organizations like courts, nonprofits, and libraries give free legal aid clinics. People can get basic legal advice from volunteer lawyers who attend these events. It is useful for people to know that these attorneys will not represent them. However, people can benefit from a short session to get answers to their questions.
Free Consultation Benefits
Many lawyers tend to satisfy their state bar’s requirement on pro bone hours by providing free initial consultations. Business owners can take advantage of these free consultations to ask some questions and determine if the attorney is okay for them and their business. They can ask the lawyer some of these questions during their first consultation:
- What is the lawyer’s fee structure?
- How often will the lawyer communicate with the business owner, and what method of communication will the lawyer use?
- Besides the lawyer, who else will handle the case?
- Will the case potentially involve a court/litigation appearance?
- What is the lawyer’s strategy for the case?
- What is the lawyer’s background?
People can walk away freely if the lawyer doesn’t answer these questions to their satisfaction.
Many businesses have been able to resolve their legal issues even with sufficient information from the initial consultation. However, some individuals only get a starting point with the consultation. They may need to make other follow-up appointments with the lawyer, which can come at the lawyer’s standard hourly rate.
Getting an Attorney Who Has a Contingency Fee Structure
It is quite interesting to learn that some lawyers are getting more small business clients these days by being open to creative billing arrangements. These business attorneys result in a contingency fee structure or optional contracts instead of using hourly rates.
People can only pay the lawyer when they win the case in a contingency fee arrangement. Their attorney will then get a percentage of the money awarded to them. In essence, business owners can enjoy a risk-free way to obtain legal representation with this payment model, even though it is not completely free legal advice. It is primarily in personal injury lawsuits that one can find a contingency fee structure. However, people can use them in any case type, including business litigation.