As a business owner, you are going to run into legal problems. It’s just a fact of running a business, and if it hasn’t happened to you yet, it is only a matter of time. While some of these problems are easily resolved, some of the more delicate ones may eventually end up in court, or they may take a lot of time to handle.
While you may be tempted to try to handle your problems on your own to save money, there are times when this is a very bad strategy, and you may not even be allowed to do so. So how do you know when to hire a lawyer and when to try it on your own? There are a couple of different things that can help you figure out the answer.
Who is Being Represented
Who you are and what type of business you run has quite a bit to do with whether or not you need a lawyer. For example, if your business consists of anyone but you as an individual, you’re legally required to hire an lawyer, no matter how simple the case is. To represent someone other than yourself in court, you need to have passed the bar, and when you represent your business, you are representing the other owners and employees. If you are the sole proprietor and you don’t have any employees, you can represent yourself, but that may not be the best idea.
Finding a Lawyer
If you determine that you need a lawyer, it is important that you find the right lawyer to represent you in court. Like any branch of law, business law has its nuances and things you need to understand. While you may be able to do well with a general lawyer, working with a lawyer who has experience in your area of concern. There are firms that deal with business law or networks you can contact to get help finding a lawyer.
Type of Help
If your case is likely to consist of motions and discovery and not much else, you may be able to work your way through the basics without hiring a lawyer to represent you in court. However, you should probably still talk to a lawyer while preparing your case. They can give you a basic rundown of what you need to do so you don’t accidentally miss something important. In most major law firms, paralegals and legal secretaries compose the majority of the documents and motions. Lawyers then sign off on them before they are filed. If you take advantage of this kind of cost savings, you may find your case doesn’t require a lawyer’s constant attention.
Complexity of Trial
On the other hand, if your case is going to trial, and especially if there is a significant sum at issue, there is no practical way to avoid hiring a lawyer. This is especially true if the other side has a lawyer. Unless you are litigating a small claims action, there is simply no way for an untrained individual, no matter how sophisticated, to engage a licensed trial lawyer in a court of law with any hope of success. The combination of procedure and legal minutiae is simply too much.
The most important thing is to consider what is best for your business in the long term. Forget saving money by doing everything yourself, especially if the legal process is going to drag out. It is always a good idea to have someone who knows the ins and outs of the legal system on your side.