Running a business is complex on many levels. Not only do you have to constantly manage company finances and day-to-day operations, but you also must cover all your bases on the legal front. And even if you are thorough, you can get hit with a surprise lawsuit, audit, or other issues.
We all know that legal services can be expensive. But what if you’re a small business owner with limited capital, and you need legal assistance, is there anything you can do? Below, Gulotta & Gulotta, PLLC discusses how to find low-cost (or free) legal help when you need it.
It’s essential to have written contracts or agreements that notify your customers of what to expect while protecting you from unnecessary losses. If your company needs contracts to be regularly written for the same jobs, sales, or purchases, you can have a lawyer write up a boilerplate contract, which acts as a sort of template that you can reuse and modify for each customer.
When using a boilerplate contract, all you have to do is swap out each parties’ name and fill the form out with any unique information, such as costs, dates, etc. Going through an online service is an excellent way to find an attorney with small business experience who will provide affordable services.
There are several obvious reasons why labor laws should be identified, understood and followed, among them being the safety of workers and the required compliance of employers. Specific to the worksite, Labor Law 240/241 (a.k.a. New York’s Scaffold Law) addresses the safety of construction workers who perform their jobs on or around scaffolding. Taking such safety measures is no small matter; the US Bureau of Labor Statistics found that 1,102 fatal injuries occurred in the construction industry in 2019, with most fatal falls, slips, and trips being from falls to a lower level.
If you or someone you know has sustained an injury on the construction site, consult with a law firm like Gulotta & Gulotta, PLLC to determine if the accident is covered under Sections 200, 240, or 241 of New York State Labor Law.
If you have customers who owe outstanding debts, and you have exhausted all other strategies for collecting payments, you may need to take legal action. These days, it’s easy to find debt collection agencies that work with businesses for reasonable rates. GoCardless suggests sending out a Letter Before Action (LBA) before you start researching debt collectors.
Another option is to go through the government’s Money Claim Direct process. Even though they charge a fee to the debt on top of interest, it can give you leverage if you take your debts to Small Claims Court.
Getting audited by the IRS is never fun. And when you are a small business trying to take every opportunity to grow, an audit can cripple your operations unless you handle it appropriately. While you want to save money, you also want to ensure any attorney you hire to represent you in an audit has the skills and experience necessary to help you come out on top.
In other words, just don’t go with the cheapest option. With that said, evaluate each lawyer to gauge their level of integrity, and talk to them about how much you can expect to pay. Many times, your total cost will depend on who the auditor is, the nature of your tax returns, how your returns were prepared, etc.
Other Tips for Finding Low-Cost Legal Assistance
When it comes to finding affordable legal services, you might try some of the strategies you would if you were handling a personal finance issue. For example, check with the city courthouse to see if there is any free assistance offered to local businesses, and look for attorneys in the area who will offer free consultations.
If there is a law school in your area, see if it has a pro bono program that allows law students to give free legal advice to small businesses. There are many universities that offer these programs, and you may even research schools that offer remote consultations if you do not live near a law school that offers these programs.
You may have to navigate many legal challenges if you run a small business for long enough. And when you have limited capital at your disposal, the attorney fees can quickly stack up and hinder your company’s growth.
Whether you’re writing customer contracts, collecting debts, or dealing with tax issues, consider the tips above for connecting with free or low-cost legal assistance, and keep researching other options so that you can come up with a plan that keeps your business above board without draining your bank account.
The general practice firm of Gulotta & Gulotta, PLLC is able to help you resolve your legal matters, from personal injury and real estate matters to estates and traffic violations (and more). Contact us today for more information!
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