9 AUG 2018
As a business owner, you are aware that legal documentation is mandatory for running a business. You know that your company and staff deserve the protection of proper paperwork and binding contracts.
During the growth stages of a business though, legal fees can seem outrageous for small and medium-sized companies. Legal retainers are extremely costly and don’t make sense for the legal services that you need.
From drafting agreements to document reviews, exactly how much should your business expect to pay in legal fees?
Hiring a Lawyer
A retainer consists of the legal fees that a client pays to “hire” a lawyer up front. This means before the lawyer has done any work, the client must pay a large retainer so that when work is needed, the lawyer is required to create availability and handle the job.
Each lawyer decides their own retainer and they charge hourly for work after that. Retainers are typically quite expensive, but large companies use this method to ensure that a legal team is at the ready when they need.
Fixed Legal Fees
Another option is a pay-per-use plan for legal fees, which are also known as “fixed fee” jobs. In this case, a lawyer or law firm will name a price for a certain type of job.
They will reuse templates of legal documentation and then adjust the information for the client. In some cases, lawyers will still have hourly expenses on top of the fixed fee that are scaled to match the client’s budget.
For example, a business contract might cost anywhere between MYR2000 to MYR5000 and even more, depending on the complexity.
Each lawyer sets their own fees. Medium to large-sized companies use this type of service because the legal fees are relatively affordable compared to a lawyer on retainer. To find the appropriate pay scale, the client must simply shop around.
Legal Document Services
The third option which offers the lowest legal fees is a subscription style of services known as legal document services. In this scenario, a business owner pays a small subscription to have access to a business document library.
The document library contains templates of typical legal documentation that a business needs to function. The business owner then uses these templates to draft the document they need based on their circumstances.
The better legal document service providers will incorporate document automation capabilities that make it easier for the business owner to draft the document themselves – the business owner typically needs to just answer a set of questions and the document would be drafted automatically for them.
If needed, they can send it over to a legal professional who reviews the document and ensures that it is in line with what the business owner intended.
The document review is usually included in the subscription so there is no fixed fee and no hourly legal fees for the lawyer. The benefit of a legal document service is that they often have resources that educate and equip the business owner to handle their business legal documentation themselves.
This saves money and keeps the business owner involved in the business in a very hands-on way. An example is a business law guide that covers the basics of Malaysian law, legal issues that affect businesses in Malaysia, and gives business owners insight into how their company can stay on the level.
The Cost Difference
From the startup stages until you can financially justify having a lawyer on-call, most entrepreneurs and business owners should choose legal document services over a full-priced lawyer.
This write-up is a great example of how much business owners can save if they choose legal document services.
ShakeUp!, an online professional services company in Malaysia, offers subscription plans at a few different price points.
The least expensive legal documentation plan starts at MYR 65 per month which includes 15 startup documents, unlimited DIY documents, unlimited document revisions, and the all-important Law Guide.
The most ample plan is the Biz Standard which runs MYR 245 per month and includes everything from the Biz Startup plan as well as access to all templates in the business document library, 4 legal document reviews, and 4 calls to the legal helpline annually.
They also offer a free trial so that business owners and entrepreneurs can preview the service before paying.
Though having a full team of legal professionals available at your beck-and-call is ideal, it’s just not an affordable option. Legal fees of MYR 800 per hour are not realistic either for a small business owner who often has small, technical questions and can handle much of the document customization without the help of a professional.
The availability of legal document services through subscription is truly a life-saver for the type of business owner who is not afraid of a little DIY.
Learn more about affordable online legal document services for Malaysian entrepreneurs at ShakeUp!