Why use a lawyer? Most people who contact us have already decided that they need assistance from a lawyer, which is why they are contacting us. But some people – maybe you – haven’t made up their mind yet. (For the purpose of this blog post, I will assume you are a business owner.)
One obvious reason is to save money. Save money? What about the legal fees? Let me explain. Let’s say you have been asked to sign a contract. You could ask a lawyer to read the contract and advise you about any important issues before you sign it. If the lawyer spots a couple of major things that you can have changed, or that you can insure against or take precautions against, you are ahead. You have either eliminated a risk before it happens or you have a strategy in place to deal with it if it does happen.
If you don’t bother to get legal advice, however, and sign anyway, you are taking a risk. Maybe the risk will eventuate and maybe it won’t. But if it does eventuate then it might cost you a lot more than the fees you would have paid the lawyer you didn’t ask to check the contract. A case that lasts for only one day in the Supreme Court might cost $10,000 in legal fees. Put simply, if you avoid disputes or problems, you will save time and money.
Another reason is to build certainty. Let’s say you do go ahead and hire a lawyer to review the contract, or build you a template document, such as your standard client agreement or terms and conditions. You can now move forward knowing you have minimised your risks with the help of the lawyer’s assistance. Also, your customers will appreciate the certainty and professionalism that you bring to your relationship with them by presenting them with a proper contract. Good fences make good neighbours, as they say.
A third reason is that it is good management practice to build the foundation of your business properly: to get an accountant or bookkeeper to help you set up your accounting system, for example, or to get a lawyer to assist you to set up or review your basic legal documents. Let’s say you show the lawyer your lease before you sign it, and the lawyer spots a couple of things in the lease which you ask the landlord to change. These things could be very important. Let’s say, for example, that the lease didn’t have any option terms (extensions of time), but after getting legal advice you ask the landlord to grant you some options and the landlord agrees. When you go to sell your business in a few years, the extra time on the lease should help to maintain the value of your business. Think about it: would you pay top price for a business if its lease is just about to expire?
Getting assistance or advice from a lawyer at the right time can be very useful to a business owner.
This post was written by James Irving, Lawyer.