“Why can’t I just use Legal Zoom?”
That’s a question that’s been whispered among many busy entrepreneurs across the country.
“Why Scott, can’t I just use Legal Zoom or some other website for my legal needs?”
And for someone who might not be familiar with the role a lawyer can play in their business (versus the labor intensive, money guzzling one they read about in the news), it’s a good question.
But as a Legal & Business Growth Coach for the past 20+ years, I’d like to provide an alternative perspective, based on my experience and those of others that I’ve talked to, that you might find helpful. And then, armed with all the facts, you can make your own decision.
Sound fair enough?
Alright then, let’s jump right in.
Oh, and by the way, these reasons are not listed in any particular order, so just take each one based on its own merit and go from there.
Reason #1: Business Can Get Complicated…quickly.
In other words, while a start up or someone who’s been in business for less than a year might find sites like Legal Zoom helpful, the longer you’re in business, the more complicated your potential legal business problems can get.
For example, someone who is just starting out can be totally fine with a bunch of templates and a “start up kit,” because that generic solution works in most of the limited situations they face.
But what about a company that’s been around a few years and runs into a trademark infringement issue with a competitor? Or a family owned business who has an issue with a client they’ve been working with for the past 5 years that they want to resolve, but don’t want to torpedo the entire relationship?
Or what about two business partners that are good friends, own a great company together, but now have run into a dispute regarding dispersement of funds?
These are the types of situations that you’re not likely to find ready made answers for with your generic lawyer website.
And not because those sites are bad, but simply because they require a degree of sophistication and touch that you’re more likely to get with a real life lawyer, who has experience in those matters, and with whom you’ve developed a relationship.
Reason #2: The Relationship.
As with most things in today’s Relationship Economy, a lot of times it’s not what you know, but who you know that counts, and when it comes to a legal matter, that is certainly not the exception.
When something is going sideways legally in your business, you absolutely want to know your lawyer and know that he has your back.
Trust me on this.
In Harvey McKay’s book, “Dig Your Well Before Your Thirsty,” he talks about the value of developing and deepening relationships with people BEFORE you need them, since by the time you realize their value, it’s usually too late.
Now I’m not saying you call your lawyer every day or even every week.
But having a regularly scheduled “check in” meeting about your business certainly doesn’t hurt, and it can do wonders with bringing your legal counsel up to speed as it relates to your thinking, philosophy and just overall vision and direction of your business.
In our Access Program, I actually talk with members on a monthly basis for up to 30 or 60 minutes.
Sometimes it’s to talk about questions that came up during the course of the previous few weeks on their end.
Other times I bring them up to speed on the latest legal developments in their industry.
And other times still, I give them my Top 3 Legal Business Lessons learned that month, based on my experience in the field.
Regardless, we’re checking in. We’re having a good, focused conversation, and developing a relationship moving forward, so that if something does come up, I’m already very familiar with their business and how they like to do things.
Reason #3: You don’t know what you don’t know.
This is a tricky one since by definition it’s very hard to discern in yourself.
To put it another way, if you don’t have the skills and expertise in a certain area, then it’s extremely difficult to know what questions to ask or resources to find…even if you have tons of templates, documents and other things at your disposal!
You simply don’t have enough practical experience with your current predicament to know where to look or what to ask.
Which is why having a real life, experienced lawyer is so important.
They should be someone who based on their experience in dealing with situations similar to yours, will know not only what they should be doing now…but also is able to anticipate future problems that might come up later on down the road.
Believe me, having someone like this is absolutely a person want on your side when things are swirling around you legally.
The Bottom Line
Templates, resources and email are great…if your specific business fits neatly into that type of generic solution.
But if you’ve been in business for more than a year, and you’re trying to grow that business on a consistent basis, then take my word for it…you’ll eventually run into a legal situation.
And when that does happen you’ll want to have someone you know. Someone you trust. And someone who has experience in dealing with situations similar to what you’re facing.
So if you’d like to schedule some time to get to know each other a little bit, and talk about your situation, then email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll schedule your 30 minute free of charge session with myself or a member of my team.
But regardless, just remember: When it comes to legal situations, websites and templates are great. But people, experience and relationships are even better when the proverbial rubber hits the legal road.