Learn about online legal tools for small businesses
No matter how straightforward your business is, you will eventually find that you need some form of legal advice. Keeping a law firm on retainer is not an option for cash-strapped small businesses, and the different law specializations would require you to keep a whole list of law firms in your contacts list to cover all the legal requirements you may encounter. For example, you may need to draw up a contract for a new employee or for a service provided by a freelancer. You may need to have a rental agreement checked before you sign it, or you may need a lawyer to handle a property sale. Even a very simple business will soon accrue a wide range of legal documents.
Many legal services are now provided online, and that means you can have much of your legal work carried out without driving across town and wasting time while waiting for an appointment. Take a look at this review of the top five legal tools available on the Internet to learn whether you can have your legal needs met without hiring a lawyer.
The Business Attorney Plan from LegalZoom is like having a law firm on retainer without having to pay fees for any work the law firm actually does. If you sign up for the service for a year, you pay US $23.99 per month. Doing business in the USA is complicated by the fact that each state has its own legal system, which means that you have to find a lawyer that is experienced in the law of your location. LegalZoom matches you with a lawyer who is local to you and experienced in the law as it is applied in your state. The standard business plan includes a review of your small business’s contracts and legal documents as well as on-demand ad-hoc legal advice. The company also offers a special package for small business start-ups, which includes advice on setting up the legal structure of your company and templates for various types of business contracts. LegalZoom offers a range of legal tools and legal advice plans for individuals as well as for small businesses.
Conducting your business online presents specific problems that bricks-and-mortar businesses never encounter. One of the big problems of eCommerce is getting legal documents signed. You don’t want to lose business by insisting that customers print documents, sign them, and courier the original copies to you. Fortunately, there are legal tools that address this problem, and one of the most prominent digital signature services is called DocuSign. This system offers legally enforceable verification of agreements and legal documents. The company also offers options for cloud storage and document distribution tracking.
You may be looking for legal tools that can help you verify the originality of your trademark, logo, company name, or business slogan. Trademarkia, a service created by LegalForce, allows you to search trademarks registered in a number of different locations, including the USA and Europe. The search service can be accessed for free at the Trademarkia website. You can also search the site for patents, web domain names, and logos for free.
Probably the most frequent need of small businesses regarding the law is not legal advice, but legal documents that follow an enforceable and legally recognized format. There are many online legal tools that specialize in templates for contracts and other legal documents. Docstoc has a library of templates for any type of legal document you are likely to need. You can either pick individual templates or buy a package of templates typically required for specific types of small businesses.
LawDepot is another online tool centered on the creation of legal documents. This service is specifically aimed at small businesses and individuals in the United States. Whereas Docstoc offers downloadable templates, LawDepot guides you through the compilation of your legal documents within its website; you then download the completed contract or agreement.
Canadian small business start-ups are lucky to have an online legal tool that details the permits and licenses their particular type of trade requires. BizPal is a service provided jointly by Canada’s federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal governments. The website is free to use and details specific legal permits needed in any given location in Canada.
Thanks to these online legal tools, you don’t actually have to hire a lawyer for many of the legal needs of your small business. You can get templates or legal documents written online, and US small businesses can get online legal advice through sites such as LegalZoom. Both online and brick-and-mortar businesses can save money using these online legal tools.
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