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Make It Legal

Cost And Effect

Want to lower your legal costs without increasing your business's liability? Follow these steps:

  • Discuss fees. Once you've found the right lawyer, ask whether he or she charges an hourly rate or a fixed fee. "If charges are by the hour, set a cap so you know the maximum you'll be spending," suggests Fred S. Steingold, an attorney in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
  • Do some footwork. Keep accurate records, do preliminary research, and write out a draft of any agreement you want your attorney to finalize.
  • Use paralegals. Ask your lawyer about using paralegals for routine legal tasks like researching public records and drafting documents. Their hourly rate could be half what your attorney charges.
  • Educate yourself. Call special-interest publishers Nolo Press (800-955-4775) or PSI Research/The Oasis Press (800-228-2275) to obtain a catalog of legal books and software programs for business owners. Also check into legal seminars offered by your chamber of commerce, local business association or university extension service. They can help you learn the basics of legal issues affecting your business.

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This article was originally published in the December 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Make It Legal.

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