How much is a lawyer consultation for startups? New startups rarely have the legal expertise on board inhouse to handle compliance and other legal matters. Many legal hurdles can potentially harm your startup if you are not getting the required legal support.
Hiring a full time legal expert is not feasible for small early stage startups. So they often turn to outside lawyers specializing in providing legal assistance and consultancy to newly founded businesses.
Since startups are just starting their journey, they have to get everything in order before growing and expanding. However, a lot of startup owners are worried about the costs of hiring a lawyer.
Typically, startup lawyers are hired to solve specific legal issues or assist with certain legal tasks. So the cost of hiring a lawyer for startups is going to vary depending upon the complexity of the legal task and the time it takes to complete it.
So if you are a startup owner looking to hire a lawyer for a consultation regarding the legal matters of your business, then keep reading.
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Why Should You Consult A Lawyer For Your Startup?
Most startup owners don’t realize the importance and real value of consulting a lawyer. Since budget is a significant constraint for startups, they have to be careful how they spend their funds. As far as consulting a startup lawyer is concerned, it is a worthwhile investment that will benefit you in the long run.
Not to mention involving a lawyer to oversee the legal matters at the initial stage of your startup can save you from legal fines and complications. So without further ado, here is why you should consult a lawyer for your startup at the initial stages:
Figuring out taxation: One of the very first surprises startup owners receive is in the form of a complex taxation process. Startups or any business, for that matter, often have to pay taxes to the state, local, and federal governments. Failing to pay your taxes on time can leave your startup vulnerable to tax evasion charges. The last thing a startup wants is bad publicity that comes from not paying taxes in time.
A lawyer can identify all the taxes you need to pay and the correct times to pay them. Not to mention, they can help make sure you aren’t overpaying in terms of taxes.
Cross-checking trademarks: Whether it is your startup’s name, logo, or even the tagline, every identifiable marker for your business needs to be unique. This means your business shouldn’t use a name, logo, or branding that is already a trademark of another business. If you fail to cross-check all the trademarks, you can end up violating the trademark law even if you didn’t intentionally violate the trademark. A lawyer can cross-check the availability of everything from the name, logo, tagline. So, figure out how much is a lawyer consultation for startups and factor in the costs.
Help pick the right business structure: When you are about to register your business, you will have to pick a structure for your startup. If you fail to choose the right structure for your startup, you become liable to taxes and regulations that you may not be ready for. A lawyer can help make sure you pick the right business structure that suits your startup needs.
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Figuring out insurance for your startup: Insurance is often overlooked by startups. If your startup doesn’t have the necessary insurance, you can land in hot water with the law, or at least be exposed to hefty financial costs. Some common insurance you need to set up before you launch operations include:
- Accidental insurance of customers
- Accidental insurance for employees
- Employee claims related to disputes and accidents
- Equipment and physical product insurance
- Vehicle insurance for any automobiles being used for your business operations
Getting your business patents: Startups that have a unique idea or product often end up getting copied unless their intellectual property is protected under a patent. For most startups, their unique selling point is their idea, and a lawyer can help you file for a patent to protect your idea. A lawyer can also make sure that you have the right kind of patent for your intellectual property, so you get the maximum protection when patenting your idea.
Complying with regulations: Compliance is the number one reason a lawyer should be hired to assist your startup. There are various regulatory authorities that your startup needs to comply with if you want it to be completely legal. Consulting a lawyer will not only let you know about all the authorities you need to comply with, but they can walk you through the compliance process as well.
These are just some of the legal and tax related aspects of a startup that a lawyer can help you with. If your business faces a unique legal complication or has a special legal requirement that needs to be fulfilled, you can always consult a lawyer and get expert advice. So, the right time to research how much is a lawyer consultation for startups is now.
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How Much Does A Lawyer Consultation Cost For Startups?
A lawyer’s consultancy services typically come at a cost. As mentioned at the start, they vary from lawyer to lawyer and the complexity of the legal task. With that said there are surveys that give us a good idea of how much lawyers charge for their consultation services on average. Not all lawyers are the same, and they may charge startups an hourly, flat, or contingency rate. Here is how much you can expect to be charged by a lawyer for providing consultancy to your startup based on three different fee structures:
Flat fee: Flat fee structure, as the name suggests, involves a lump sum fee that a lawyer charges for a specific legal task. For example, if you need help with choosing the right business structure for your business, the lawyer will charge a flat fee for helping you register your startup. Lawyers charge a flat fee for certain routine tasks because they repeatedly perform these standard legal tasks for different clients. So they know how much time and effort it will take to complete a task.
Since there are so many legal matters that a startup might need help with, the flat fee may vary from task to task. With that said, if we focus solely on the flat fee of a lawyer for incorporating a startup, it can be between $500 to $700. However, some attorneys may charge upwards of $5,000 if the incorporation process has some hurdles or complexities.
Since flat fee structures are set by the lawyers, they are bound to vary from lawyer to lawyer. On top of that, a flat fee may not be the most accurate way to compare the costs of hiring different lawyers.
Hourly fee: While a flat fee can be difficult to understand, an hourly fee is relatively more straightforward for most startups. When a lawyer charges an hourly fee for their consultation services, they consider the number of hours they have worked on your project. The more time-consuming a legal matter is, the higher the hourly fee becomes since the lawyer has to work more hours to solve the issue. Lawyers also prefer the hourly fee structure because it ensures that lawyers aren’t getting underpaid. With that said hourly fee for a junior attorney can range between $300 to $500 per hour. At the same time, senior lawyers and firms can charge between $450 and $900 per hour. While the best may charge in excess of $1,000 an hour.
While the hourly rate greatly depends upon the lawyer’s experience and reputation, it still makes the comparison between fees of different lawyers easier. When you are trying to choose a lawyer for your startup based on the hourly fee, you can simply compare the experience level and the hourly fee of the lawyers to find the best option.
It is possible that some attorneys may be charging less than the minimum hourly fee mentioned above. That is where the attorney’s experience comes in, and if you want to make sure that you are getting the correct advice, you should settle for an attorney that has more than three years of experience.
The hourly fee structure also allows the startups to set up a monthly billing arrangement with the lawyer. So the startup can receive a bill for the number of hours their lawyer spent working on their project. In short, hourly fee structure is a great way to maintain transparency between you and the lawyer you are hiring.
Contingency fees: Contingency fee is not usually used by startups or small organizations. This type of fee involves a company paying a portion of the amount they won in a lawsuit or a legal dispute to their lawyer.
Contingency fees mean the lawyer is often given between 25 to 50 percent of the amount won during a lawsuit. So the bigger the amount involved in a lawsuit is, the bigger the incentive of the lawyers is to win it.
Attorneys offer their services independently, or they work for a big law firm. However, as a startup, you need personalized attention, which means finding a great lawyer that you can continue to work with on an ongoing basis. Since consultancies involve frequent visits to the lawyer’s office, the location of the lawyer’s office can be a major deciding factor, along with the fee structure and experience.
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How Can You Bring The Lawyer’s Consultation Fee Down?
While lawyers generally have fixed fees for their services, there are ways to bring down the cost of hiring an attorney for a consultation. Following tips can be applied to possibly reduce a lawyer’s consultation cost:
Come prepared for the consultation: When a lawyer is charging a fee on an hourly basis, the more time the consultation takes, the more it will cost you. So, a good way to reduce the duration of the consultation is to bring all the financial and operational information about your startup with you.
In addition to bringing this information along you can also send the required information to the lawyer before the consultation. This will provide your lawyer with the context and information they need to give accurate legal advice for your startup.
Set a limit for the lawyer’s fee: You can ask the lawyer to notify you when you have spent a certain amount of money on the consultation fee. Whether your lawyer is charging you on an hourly or flat fee basis, you should set a dollar amount limit that you can comfortably spend.
For instance, if your budget allows you to spend no more than $1,000 on legal consultation, then ask the lawyer to notify you when your bill has reached $1,000. This can help make sure you don’t spend more than you should on the legal fee at any given time.
Always get an estimate: The lawyer you are hiring should be able to provide you with an estimate of how much a particular task will cost. Like setting a limit for the lawyer’s fee, you can ask your lawyer to notify you if your bill exceeds the estimate provided by them.
Managing a startup is stressful enough on its own. Trying to handle the legal aspects of a startup while handling the administrative matters is nearly impossible for owners. However, hiring an attorney specializing in startups can help reduce some of the burdens of running a small business.
Now that you know how much you can expect to pay a lawyer for a consultation regarding your startup, you can make a more informed decision when hiring an attorney.
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