From time to time, you may need to review a contract or draft one yourself. You don’t have a lot of money so you figure you will look on the internet and check out what contracts are already written and compare them to what your needs are. Smart move or not?
If you think in terms of your own skills and talents, the answer becomes crystal clear. You wouldn’t do your own surgery and you wouldn’t advise your customers to do it themselves rather than hire you for the services that your business provides. So why do you think you have the expertise to do it yourself when it comes to your legal needs?
Most legal problems are confusing because you don’t face them every day. You are not sure which documents you need and you are uncertain about what questions to ask. Or you don’t realize that you need to ask questions because they don’t even occur to you. This is where a lawyer comes in.
It is enormously to your benefit to consult with a lawyer before you get into legal trouble and there is no other solution than to hire a lawyer (this usually means you have been sued or need to sue someone). When you reach the point of a lawsuit, your legal problems are immediate but your costs for legal help are thousands of dollars higher. If you had talked to a lawyer earlier in the transaction or when your business was just starting, he/she could have advised you on the best legal practices to follow to ensure that you don’t break any laws, that you have enforceable contracts so that your rights are protected, and that you get paid for your products or services. It also keeps your stress level down when you have a roadmap of how to do things and a lawyer will provide one where your business issues and your legal concerns intersect. There are so many problems when you first start your business that getting one of them under control can be a real help.
Furthermore, any solution that is on the internet may be so general that it doesn’t apply to your situation or may be so specific to the company that is discussed that it doesn’t apply to you either. How will you know whether an internet document solves your contract issues? You are hoping for the best but you won’t know you needed more than what you copied off the internet until you really need the protections of the contract and the protections aren’t there. After all, you don’t know what you don’t know or to put it another way, you don’t know that you needed to ask more questions.
Lawyer services aren’t just providing documents for you. The real value of a lawyer comes from his/her knowledge base and how to apply it to your specific situation. You can’t get that from the internet.