The Dangers Of DIY Legal

02/04/2017 10:12 pm ET Updated Feb 08, 2017

Raise your hand if you have used a DIY contract template in your business.

Raise your hand again if you think you are legally covered by using the template.

Would it surprise you to know that there is a 99.99999% chance that you are NOT covered. Even if said template was drafted by such lawyer using all the legalese in a Black’s law dictionary—or precisely because of it.

If you’re serious about growing your business into a profitable enterprise and serving your clients well, proper legal counsel is crucial.

How a small business handles legal in their business operations is what separates the professionals from the amateurs. Small business owners often think that hiring a lawyer is a luxury reserved for large organizations. However, working with a lawyer is a required element of operating as a professional. On the other hand, do-it-yourself legal is a sure indication of amateur operations. You decide—do you want to be viewed as an amateur or a professional?

And, worse than looking like an amateur, you put your business and personal assets at risk.

What is a DIY legal package? It’s a shortcut, and taking shortcuts leaves you and your business vulnerable to costly mistakes. ALWAYS.

Legal DIY, whether it comes in the form of fill-in-the-blanks templates, software, or downloadable forms, does not properly cover your legal bases. Entrepreneurs need take the legal aspects of their business seriously and working with a lawyer is the professional and wise course of action.

Think legal doesn’t apply because you are a solopreneur? Think again.

Legal DIY can backfire in three ways:

1. Cost – What does Legal DIY really cost?

The money that you might initially save with DIY legal will in fact cost you much more down the road when you run into a legal jam. Did you know that it could cost you at least one extra zero, if not two zeros, more than what you would have paid to hire a lawyer in the first place? Let’s say that setting up proper legal processes with a lawyer would have cost you $800 during the early stages of your business. That can easily become $8,000 or even $80,000 down the road when you leave yourself open to the vulnerabilities of DIY legal.

2. Time – How can Legal DIY cost you time? 

Alongside the extensive delayed legal fees using DIY instead of working with a lawyer, the time and energy drain of having to resolve a legal situation can be hugely detrimental to a business. In addition to legal fees, there is a huge amount of work involved in managing a legal situation, from the paperwork to the time spent on lawyer’s visits, and even time spent in court. For a business owner, time away from your business has serious repercussions for your operations ... and your profitability.

3. Reputation – How do amateur legal practices reflect on your brand?

Building a positive brand reputation is essential to your long-term business success. When you operate without the proper legal documents and processes, it can reflect very poorly on your brand. That’s true in the short-term, and even more so in the long-term. If you end up with legal problems down the road, those legal ramifications will certainly damage your brand’s image in the public eye. That damage can be difficult to turn around, and some businesses never recover.

Working with a lawyer to secure your business future ensures that you avoid these consequences.

Don’t put off today what you believe can wait until next week, or even next year. Save yourself a lot of money, time, and hassle by establishing your company on solid legal footing, making sure your website is legally compliant, and creating professional contracts and processes with a lawyer now.

Solid legal talent is one of the best investments you can make in your business. Susan Burns is your on-call business partner, working with small businesses in growth mode. After many years of watching small business owners make expensive legal mistakes, she couldn’t stand another minute of it. She founded Small Business Legal School to help you build a strong and successful business.

Follow Small Business Legal School on Twitter for more great legal tips: https://twitter.com/LegallySavvySBO

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