If you have a legal emergency, need to meet a deadline, or if there’s a lot of risk or money on the table, it’s wise to consider hiring a lawyer as soon as possible and negotiating the best rate possible.
Most small business owners begin looking for legal help only after they’ve been sued or have landed in legal hot water. The reality is that finding free legal advice can take some time, so it’s best to go this route only when you have time on your side.
Are you making the right Legal Decisions?
Do you have a written founder agreement that includes clear deal terms among all founders, including equity grants?
Are you choosing the right business entity to avoid liabilities and reduce taxes?
Do you have a strong contract when dealing with customers or clients?
Have you taken the appropriate steps to protect your intellectual property?
Are you maintaining adequate employment documentation, and do you know the legal differences between employees, independent contractors and consultants?
Have you considered important tax issues, such as sales tax?
Does your company or product/service name have trademark issues or domain name problems?
Whether you are just launching your venture or busy growing it, you face critical decisions about every aspect of your business. On the legal front, founders typically address issues related to entity formation, intellectual property protection, compliance with employment laws, tax planning, and financing.
Startups that seek legal advice early can avoid some of the most common mistakes and pitfalls that can trigger legal issues, ruin deals, cause financial repercussions, or limit their ability to reap the full rewards of their idea.
That being said, here are four ways to find free/affordable legal advice:
1. Attend free legal workshops.
There are alot Private sector led free legal workshop initiatives around Nigeria. These workshops are either online or offline. These workshops hold on Facebook, Whatsappand other channels. You can subscribe to our Monthly Newsletter and get updates/invites on the next free legal workshop close to you.
2. Take advantage of free consultations
Many startup business lawyers who freelance offer free initial consultations to hone their skills. If you look well enough you would find them on LinkedIn, Quota, Twitter etc. AffordableLaw has a weekly Free Legal Advice Program that allows entrepreneurs and SMEs to get free legal advice once every week. Simply send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org and get a response within 24hrs.
3. Choose a lawyer who uses a flexible fee structure.
It may surprise you to know that many lawyers these days are open to creative billing arrangements to get more small business clients. Instead of an hourly rate, business lawyers can use alternative arrangements like subscriptions for consultations.
4. Use an online legal service.
There are several online legal services that offer legal assistance for free or for a low fixed rate. They can be an excellent resource for creating legal documents, getting advice on how to structure your business entity, and finding lawyers near you.
Here are some of the top services to try:
AffordableLaw: Fixed yearly rate for phone/email consultations with business savvy lawyers, document review/drafting, business formation, meeting/negotiation support, tax planning, regulatory compliance etc. Their subscriptions dedicated to entrepreneurs and SMEs start at N25,000 per year.
Lawpadi: Find local lawyers and get answers to your legal questions with a legal chatbot. Fixed fee services.
Lawstrive: Connects you with verified lawyer to answer your questions and resolve your legal issues. Fixed fee services
Court86: Online Dispute Resolution and Management Platforms for Individuals and businesses.
5. Get Free Resources Online
There are alot of free legal materials online to help you make the right decsions before you engage a lawyer. One easy way is to Google the topic or legal area and download eBooks on the subject. AffordableLaw has a couple of eBooks like the “Legal 101 for Entrepreneurs and SMEs “, “How to Recover Unpaid Invoices” etc. You can download them on www.affordablelaw.ng
Your budget doesn’t have to prevent you from getting the legal advice you need for your business. There are several great options for finding affordable legal help to help you launch, protect and scale your business. With so many options, you’ll have all the legal support you need to take your business to the next level.
If you’ve any questions about any of the steps outlined above, send us an email on email@example.com.