7 tips for small and medium-sized enterprises in terms of legal advice

1. don’t wait until there’s a fire to seek legal advice

Actually, you only need a lawyer when there is a fire somewhere. If a lawsuit has been filed, the lawyer is a quick interlocutor. In the end, however, this situation can be more cost-intensive than continuous cooperation. Because if Dr. Mustermann is urgently needed, his inclination to do it cheaply is rather low. Law firms are not necessarily willing to enter into cost negotiations, especially in complex matters and areas of law. It can therefore be more sensible to select a law firm of trust with which a long-term cooperation is entered into. Here, it is not big names that should play a role, but rather the understanding of one’s own business, availability (even on Fridays at 6:30 p.m.), etc. The decisive factor is: Do you understand what the lawyer gives you as advice, can you use this as a basis for your decision? Does he even give you a suggestion for a decision? Choose the best cyprus legal service.

2. watch out for bogus costs in the invoice

Many attorneys advertise special knowledge, such as being a specialist lawyer. Certainly, one is then entitled to expect that this expertise is also available. If, however, an expert in a particular field of law charges for a few hours of research by a colleague in addition to his work, you will certainly have to ask why he has to look up so much in his special field. Either he is not an expert in his field after all, or he does not work here often enough to have the necessary experience for your business. So the research position on the cost note should be questioned.

3. big is often not better

Large law firms often have very high hourly rates, why? Often an expensive staff, costs for a representative building etc. have to be paid. My experience shows that so-called boutiques with about 10 – 20 lawyers specializing in certain areas of law charge significantly lower rates. Hourly fees below 300 Euro or lower are not uncommon. Some lawyers who also have experience in corporate legal departments know from there the costs for corporate lawyers. So they calculate the cost per hour that such a lawyer costs the company for salary and social security contributions. They base their hourly rates on this, and in some cases they are less than 200 euros. This makes them a real alternative to setting up their own legal department from a cost perspective for many small and medium-sized companies. And through long-term cooperation with the companies, the law firm also becomes the winner of this pricing policy.

In most areas of the business, metrics and costs for legal services (in-house as well as through law firms) are related to company revenue and total expenses. Two-thirds of all U.S. legal departments do this; in Germany, it is still unusual (JUVE Rechtsmarkt, 05/13, page 50). Why is that?

4. Use contract law knowledge in sales and purchasing as well

If companies are looking for a lawyer, knowledge of contract law is often asked for. Indeed, drafting, reviewing and negotiating contracts is a main activity of lawyers. However, the latter can also scan existing contracts for risks, identify them and develop solutions to avoid them in future negotiations. A frequent counter-argument here is that one cannot enforce one’s own contract proposals against stronger partners or suppliers. Experience shows that a good contract lawyer has a broad argumentation potential to solve such situations favorably for the company. He or she can also compile the results of negotiations in a database, for example, to make them available to sales or purchasing staff for their negotiations. In the U.S., 64% of all legal departments see that this increases the efficiency of their teams and make IT specialists available for this purpose. And here’s another hint: Of course, much more important for the company is the experience with dangerous contracts that a non-legally trained business person would not recognize.

5. use legal knowledge also for your protection: e.g. in compliance issues.

In sales, the selection of the right legal advice may be relevant to the existence of the company. Small and medium-sized companies are dependent on keeping their sales organization lean and relying on commercial agents in the markets they serve. Especially SMEs that rely on an „outsourced sales department“ have to make sure that these sales partners work „clean“, i.e. compliant. US, English, but also German laws provide for drastic penalties. In particular, the skimming regulations, which demand all economic advantages that a company has gained through a legal violation as a fine, have an existence-threatening effect. Experience shows that the creation of risk awareness is an important task of the legal advisor in these areas.

6. use legal knowledge to protect your business know-how

In small and medium-sized companies, many business transactions may be feasible with standard terms and conditions (GTC, General Terms and Conditions of Purchase). For more complex projects, such as research and development in the construction or high-tech industries, teamwork is required within a company or even between several companies. Here, if lawyers are involved in time, they can support important strategic decisions of the management and represent company interests (e.g. the protection of company secrets).

7. project lawyers help in project business

Experience shows that experienced lawyers can help especially in the project business. They are used to asking important questions in good time. They also know the importance of sticking to milestone decisions and have experience in interdisciplinary collaboration. After all, 40% of all U.S. legal teams use such project lawyers. A concrete example: a company wants to integrate certain apps for mobile devices into its product portfolio with small but innovative partners.