As an entrepreneur that hopes to keep your business going, there is no running away from the law, and if you are going to stay on the right side of the law, you will need a legal guide – a lawyer.
Despite this understanding, several small business owners would sigh and quickly point out that they cannot afford to keep a lawyer on a monthly retainer. They would often wait until things spiral out of control, and would most likely have to pay through their noses to get out of trouble.
Businesses need legal services to define their services and ensure that they are not operating contrary to the law. They require legal services to define the terms of their dealings with partners, dealers, employees and others, sort out their books and taxes, and protect their intellectual properties, among several other reasons. Contracts are non-negotiable parts of business dealings and they need to be put in writing. Although oral agreements are binding, they might be difficult to enforce in a court. Whether it is an agreement with employees, partners/co-founders, suppliers, or delivery/logistics companies, they should never be taken for granted. It is important to have business plans, legal agreements, and human resources, administration, sales & marketing, production & operations, and finance & accounting documents in writing.
According to Inemesit Dike, CEO of Legal Concierge, “Many startup businesses hardly categorise legal services as [a] high priority until they need enforcement of their rights in court, or they run into a contract-based misfortune. [The] legal department of business organizations were often considered an expense account, not as a revenue stream.” This should not be you; don’t wait until you run into trouble. While we agree that keeping a lawyer on a monthly retainer can be expensive, especially for small businesses, there is no reason to do things without a legal perspective. Here are some affordable alternatives that you can consider. As you read through them, decide on what suits your business needs at the moment, keeping the growth plans that you have in view.
- LegalX App
The LegalX App in one phrase is an “Uber for lawyers.” The same way you can easily use Uber to hail a ride, you can use the LegalX App to get a lawyer for a one-off deal. On the app, the lawyers are verified and you can check what niche/specialisation they have in their portfolio. The most remarkable feature of the app is being able to check the lawyers’ pricing for the particular services you need. This way, you can easily pick a lawyer the fits your budget.
There is no limit to the kind of services that are offered by the lawyers on this app. They range from drafting a contract to reviewing a document, offering legal advice, or even legal representation in a court. You can also select lawyers based on their location and get one that is very close to you.
If you don’t want to keep a lawyer on a retainer for your business, this is a good option to get one when needed, plus the lawyers have to give you excellent service since you have to rate them after their service.
Theonlinebar.ng has a unique offering that promises that users can access “Every agreement you will ever need in your hands within minutes!” There are over 450 lawyers on the platform that are ready to work with you from day 1, and it all starts with the click of a button. They have a Facebook community as well as a website for reaching out. They have collated every legal document you may ever need and are available to review them with you for your business.
It is not a free option though, and there is no way to find out the cost of the service you need before going all the way.
This option is for you if you are simply looking to create documents for personal and business use. It has been described as “A ridiculously simple legal form creation website,” allowing you to download completed documents for legal, tax, business, and personal needs in PDF or Word formats.
Keep in mind that it is not free. Users do not complain about the service but that it is really not free, as you may find in some of their ads. Therefore, keep this in mind when opting for their services.
This platform offers legal essentials specifically for businesses. Their toolkit has over 2000 essential templates that you can fill or edit with Microsoft Office, GoogleDocs, iWork, etc., and download.
Business‑in‑a‑Box is for business owners, entrepreneurs, C-level executives, administrative assistants, and others who need properly prepared documents for dealings with different stakeholders. Their customizable and ready-made business documents are created by lawyers and experts, but the platform is not run by lawyers, hence there are no review or representation services available. While it offers a few templates for free, you need to have active subscriptions to use most of them.
Wonder.legal has a platform that offers downloadable templates of letters and contracts while also allowing you to create legal documents and certified electronic signatures. Its services start from as low as N900 and is pretty easy to use. All you have to do is to respond to a questionnaire, and as you do that, words and clauses are added or removed from your documents, and paragraphs are modified right before your eyes. You can download the resulting documents in Word or PDF formats and use them.
This platform stresses that they are not a substitute for lawyers, but that they only offer a solution for creating the documents that are needed to run a business. They do not review any documents that you already have.