Business Lawyer costs for small business

Asked about 2 years ago - Houston, TX

I want to start an online business, I will need NDA written for the web developer, Terms and Conditions (special ones as the website is very special, cannot find any template), and many questions to be answered. I do not know what are the lawyer rates in Houston but so far one lawyer offered $190/hr and the other $628/hr. I will use this lawyer for at least 40 hrs in 30 days period and my budget is tight, can anyone advise me where should i start?

Attorney answers (5)

  1. William J. Dyer

    Contributor Level 15


    Lawyers agree


    Answered . You should set up a free initial consultation with my friend and frequent colleague Andrew Weisblatt. He finds ways to make his services cost-effective in both the short and long term, and he can almost certainly help you avoid problems that would cost you many, many times his fees. His profile here on is linked just below.

  2. Pamela Koslyn

    Contributor Level 20


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . You'll need to budget your start-up costs wisely, but you can enlist your lawyer's help on that. It helps a lot that you have a good idea what you need.

    Not all lawyers do free initial consultations. What some do is see if the lawyer-client match is a good fit through an introductory phone call or brief meeting, but then that time is chargeable if the client does hire the lawyer and executes a written fee agreement. and that time is only free if the conversation doesn't result in engagement.

    Lawyers shouldn't charge for purely administrative tasks like getting these fee agreements done, but when the conversation veers into substance, you should expect that time to be chargeable. Social conversations also shouldn't be billed. Ask your prospective lawyer if they charge off time, and if so, when, and ask to see another similar client's bill to get an idea of what you can expect.

    Your risk is that if only hiring a lawyer for 30 days, you'll be expecting a lot of work in a short time and won't have the chance to see the lawyer's monthly invoices, and you'll also be expecting your lawyer to to prioritize your work at the expense of their other clients. Your website work doesn't seem time-sensitive, so re-think how fast you need things done, and give the lawyer-client relationship more time to develop so you cna see how a lawyer performs and how they bill.

    Avvo doesn't pay us for these responses, and I'm not your lawyer just because I answer this question or respond to... more
  3. Orsen E. Paxton III


    Contributor Level 18


    Lawyer agrees


    Answered . Even with all of the search tools available today to assist in locating a lawyer the best way to find a lawyer who is a good fit is personal referral. Ask those whom you respect in your industry whom they use. Most business lawyers are looking for an ongoing relationship, not a "one off" project. You may do yourself a disservice if you convey that this will be a one-time relationship or that the lawyer will be bidding against other lawyers every time you contact him/her. The really good ones don't need to work that way.

    DISCLAIMER: This is not specific legal advice and does not establish an attorney/client relationship.
  4. Jordan L. Donaldson

    Contributor Level 7


    Lawyers agree


    Answered . Good answers here. You can also try to find an attorney who offers flat rates on a per-project basis like my firm does for business clients. Getting quoted flat rates up front for services, especially document drafting, allows you to budget for services accurately.

    Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on since each situation is... more
  5. Kenneth Allyn Sprang

    Contributor Level 15

    Answered . It sounds like you have some good responses. I work with many start up companies and face this issue often. The $628 is rather high for a small business--even here in DC small, boutique firms like hours are about 50-60% of that. You definitely should engage someone who has done a lot of the work that you need and who is vested in nurturing your business. Some lawyers have paralegals or younger associates who can help keep costs down. As a broad generalization with the caveat that I do not have details, I suspect you could get the work done for $5000 to 7000 total. I am happy to discuss without cost or obligation. The most important consideration is to retain an experienced business lawyer and not a general practitioner.

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