by David Schoenthal
An astonishing number of small business owners face legal challenges, largely on their own, according to a 2013 survey by Decision Analyst, one of the largest privately owned research firms in North America, but those that subscribe to a legal-services plan report 100 percent satisfaction with the services they received.
The study, titled “The Legal Needs of Small Business,” showed that “America’s smallest businesses – those with 250 employees or less – face a host of legal issues, mostly alone, as they try to protect and grow their business.” Almost 60 percent of businesses surveyed experienced a significant legal event in the two years before the survey. More than 13 million U.S. businesses are in this category.
Small-business owners reported spending an average of $7,600 in legal expenses per year. Twenty-two percent said they needed contracts and documents reviewed to protect their company, and nearly 10 percent said they had to deal with contractor or supplier disputes, Internet security breaches, product liability issues, employee theft, tax audits, employee confidentiality issues, and threats of customer lawsuits.
Many of those owners who said they experienced a legal event in the past two years did not hire an attorney to help them. Respondents representing three million small businesses cite high cost as the reason for not using an attorney.
The survey said, “A significant number of small business owners deal with legal issues on their own because they don’t believe hiring an attorney is worth the high cost they have to pay. For a fraction of what a small business would pay a lawyer to handle a single issue, they can have access to their own dedicated law firm to discussion an unlimited number of legal issues.
“For small businesses that subscribe to a legal plan, 100% report they are satisfied with the services they received.”
The most sought-after reasons for seeking legal help by small businesses were debt collection and the review of contracts and other business documents — two prominent services covered under LegalShield’s Small Business Plans.
David Schoenthal is an Independent Associate with LegalShield.