From the March 2000 issue of Startups

Before coughing up big bucks in legal fees for a living, breathing lawyer, take a look at some free or low-cost legal services that could fill your business needs. There's a lot out there for the digging. Here are a few gems:

  • FreeAdvice.com (http://www.freeadvice.com) is a gold mine of comprehensive, plain-English explanations on everything from intellectual property, tax and financial law to business law and more. The site also has a directory of lawyers for hire.
  • About.com's Law (http://law.about.com/medianews/currevents/law/mbody.htm) is a great general law resource. If you're running a Web business, you'll want to bookmark the pages on cyberspace law and copyright/trademark issues. There's also legal news and, mercifully, lawyer jokes.
  • Lawyers.com (http://www.lawyers.com) provides a great database to help you locate a lawyer, plus tools to help you decide if you really need to hire one. You'll find tips on how to decide which professional to hire, how to get the best results from your attorney, a list of estimated costs and more. Advice columns, legal news and some free legal forms are also among the offerings here.

It's Formulaic

Hiring a lawyer for simple contracts can be a waste of your time and money. Handle simple agreements and business deals with contracts, forms and other do-it-yourself legal documents available online:

  • Legaldocs.com (http://www.legaldocs.com) offers a few freebies, but there is a (very reasonable) charge for most forms, including part-nership contracts and employment forms.
  • Quickform Contracts (http://www.quickforms.net) has a bevy of legal documents and contracts for Internet businesses and others; prices are around $20.
  • Techdeals at FindLaw.com (http://techdeals.findlaw.com) has legal forms for e-business transactions, such as intellectual property licenses, sponsorship, affiliate deals and more. Don't miss the directory of hundreds of legal forms in the search engine.