That adage about spending dollars to save pennies applies to many things, including the choice to refuse to hire a lawyer to help you with legal work. With so many inexpensive and fast options available on the internet to do-it-yourself when it comes to legal work, it can be alluring to hop online and just get started.
But, very often, the dirty little secret about online legal help is that you are only getting half of the story. Sometimes, those pennies that you think you are saving can end up costing you more than if you just hired the right legal professional to help you in the first place.
If you are thinking about using a do-it-yourself program to handle your legal work, it is critical that you understand why that might not be the best route and how consulting a lawyer could end up costing you way less in the long-run.
1. You can create a more significant problem for yourself
If you try to complete legal documents on your own without hiring a lawyer to help, you can create a much bigger mess than you know or intended. Failing to have the correct paperwork in order, mistakenly filing something, or just flat-out missing an important provision in an agreement or document can all turn out to be huge mistakes.
Courts (as well as government document processing systems) don’t consider ignorance an excuse if you do something wrong. If you don’t know how to do something – don’t do it! Or, expect to create significant and costly legal problems for yourself.
2. You don’t know how the law applies
There are reasons that lawyers have to go to school to join the profession. There is nothing simple about the law. It is an ever-changing and evolving industry. In order to do things right, you have to know how a law applies, then apply it properly.
If you aren’t certain that what you are drafting or preparing for yourself follows the law, from both a state and federal perspective, you could be inadvertently cutting corners that open you, your company, or both up to potential legal liability.
3. It can be more expensive to “undo” what you tried to do yourself
You probably wouldn’t consider building your home from scratch alone. Chances are, unless you’re a building professional, the foundation you lay would be insufficient to support your house. And once you build it, there is virtually no way to undo what you have done without considerable cost.
The same is true when you are creating a business and you are laying your business’ legal foundation. Whatever you do wrong from a legal standpoint can be extremely harmful to your bottom line. It is way more expensive to try to go back and undo what you did than to do it right the first time.
4. You can create areas of unnecessary exposure when using online legal help
When you don’t have proper documentation, policies, and legal work in order, you are exposing yourself to potential litigation. Not understanding the law means you are far less likely to have crossed all your T’s and dotted all your I’s, which undoubtedly leaves holes in your legal protection.
There is no reason to leave you or your business open to legal issues when you don’t have to. A good business attorney will help identify potential problem areas and help you evaluate the risk associates with those problem areas, so you can make good, solid business decisions.
5. You can miss crucial things you think are “small” at the time
Those things that seem small tend to take on a life of their own. When you are bootstrapping your start-up, it is easy to write-off certain issues like contracts, hiring documents, and formal partnership agreements as “unimportant,” because everything is working now when the business is small. But, just as you expect your business to grow, you can also expect those “small” issues will also grow with your business, leaving you a legal mess and a potential big bill to have a lawyer fix those problems late in the game.
Although there are a vast number of options which allow you to online legal help when it comes to the law, most lawyers don’t recommend doing it yourself. Even simply consulting with a lawyer to help you identify areas of risk that you did not consider is likely to help you more than simply relying on a search engine to give you the answer.
Legal issues are almost always specific to your particular set of facts. Lawyers are trained to apply those laws to the facts to decide how the law will shake out. Don’t leave your company or yourself, vulnerable to problems down the road because you didn’t know the whole story.
If you are considering using online legal help, but want to discuss your intentions with an attorney, contact our lawyers at Trestle Law today to help you identify and roadmap your business’ legal issues. We are licensed in California. Nothing herein constitutes legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. We are not your attorneys until an engagement letter has been executed.