June 7, 2019 • By Dennis Beaver
BizCounsel Promises Affordable Access to Legal Services for Business
“I just read your article, ‘Golden Rules for Going into Business for Yourself.’ You must have been a fly on the wall in our house when I had the identical discussion with my wife that you describe in the article. I was sure there was no need to have a lawyer, because I could form my new company using LegalZoom or Nolo, and that’s what I did,” Cory wrote.
“I should have had an attorney lined up in the event of a problem, which was the point of your article, but the cost to people like us–entrepreneurs on a shoestring–can be prohibitively high.
“Is there a way to have access to a lawyer now without spending a fortune? I am having trouble getting my bills paid and really need help.”
A Unique Startup–BizCounsel–Might Be the Answer
Cory’s email came in right after I had just gotten off the phone with Los Angeles-based Brian Liu who, in 2001, was one of the founders of LegalZoom along with well-known criminal defense attorney Robert Shapiro.
He recognized that new, small business owners will often need legal assistance. “But as they generally do not have the funds to retain a law firm, the idea for BizCounsel just jumped right out at us,” Liu explained. “We launched in October of 2018, to help these people to reach a lawyer quickly and at a very reasonable cost.”
While it is easy to set up a business without a lawyer, but when things go downhill, as they have for Cory who is being taken to the cleaners by some of his customers, there have historically been three options:
–Use a collection agency and, if they collect, get pennies on the dollar; or
–Go to small claims court, get a judgment and hope to collect; or
–Accept the loss.
“At LegalZoom, we learned that over 80% of people in business from two to five years have never worked with an attorney, and when they are asked why, four reasons are given.”
(1) The cost of hiring an attorney;
(2) Feeling intimidated by lawyers;
(3) Being reluctant to see a lawyer; and;
(4) The difficulty of finding a lawyer you can trust.
“Hearing these same comments from users for years led to one conclusion: The way law is practiced creates an inability for those who need a lawyer most–the small business owner – to easily get affordable access to legal services.”
In my own law practice, so often a potential client comes into the office who desperately needed to speak with an attorney months earlier, but did not, and now what was a minor, easily remedied problem had become a giant headache. When asked, “Why didn’t you call a lawyer when this mess first developed?” time and time again, the answer is, “I was afraid of a large bill in the next day’s mail, just for talking on the phone.”
“BizCounsel is the solution to that problem, allowing the business owner to make that call and most likely prevent a small problem from becoming a huge legal headache,” Liu points out.
“The little guy in business will need agreements, to have documents reviewed, and someone to call providing ongoing advice. In a very real way, having access to a lawyer–the same lawyer–provides a great sense of security, someone who has your back without their hands in your pocket,” he observes.
How it Works
As he explained, BizCounsel is geared to the business community, aiming to establish a relationship with an attorney who is knowledgeable in small business legal matters.
But, as I learned, this isn’t “Call an 800 number and hope to get the same lawyer you spoke with last time,” as some other pre-paid legal services offer.
“We connect business owners with experienced attorneys who are looking to develop their own law practice. Our subscription includes unlimited on-call attorney advice and counsel, but more importantly, we’re looking to change the way lawyers and small business owners interact.
“At $65.00 a month, small business owners are guaranteed quick access to legal advice. Through our platform, the entrepreneur is able to schedule appointments with their attorney for their continuing legal needs. And because of that on-going relationship, the attorney has the ability to be proactive and anticipate issues before they become bigger problems, instead of just being reactive.
“Use phone, text, or e-mail for any legal assistance needed. We expect a satisfied member to take the relationship to the next level, and to deal exclusively with that lawyer, for additional legal work at a significant discount.”
BizCounsel’s website (www.BizCounsel.com) is well worth the time of any small business owner who does not yet have a company lawyer.
Dennis Beaver practices law in Bakersfield and enjoys hearing from his readers. Contact Dennis Beaver.