Hiring a Lawyer vs. a Paralegal for Your Small Business: Which Should You Choose?
When you run a small business and you need legal services for things like the process of forming a business structure and getting legal advice, you will be wondering whether it is better to hire the services of a lawyer or a paralegal. Many people think paralegals can be less expensive, but that is not always true. More importantly, paralegals cannot offer the same range of services that qualified lawyers can.
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How do lawyers and paralegals differ?
Lawyers and paralegals differ in various ways. One of the biggest differences is the services they are legally allowed to provide. Lawyers can help you with every element of your small business. On the other hand, while paralegals can help you to prepare forms and complete legal documents, they are prohibited by law from giving legal advice. That includes giving information to clients about how to form a business.
As a small business owner, it is important you can obtain legal advice for a number of legal matters, as you are sure to have lots of questions about various elements of your company. So, it is usually best to hire a freelance lawyer rather than a paralegal.
What services can paralegals and lawyers provide?
Paralegals can sometimes be useful, otherwise, they would not exist! They can do much of what lawyers can as they are educated and trained to perform certain legal tasks and provide legal assistance. But being able to receive legal advice is so crucial for new small businesses, that it typically makes sense to hire a professional lawyer. Paralegals are best used for things like:
- If someone takes you to court because you owe him or her money and you need to defend yourself.
- If you are taking somebody to court and need legal assistance with the process.
- If you have been arrested for a minor criminal offense and require representation.
- If you need to write a will or obtain a Lasting Power of Attorney.
Because there are no statutory regulations for paralegals if you do decide to hire one, make sure you ask for evidence of his or her experience and qualifications. Also, check the paralegal is a member of a professional body like the National Association of Licensed Paralegals. On the other hand, when you go with a reputable and experienced lawyer, you do not need to spend time finding out what he or she can and cannot do and how qualified the lawyer is. Lawyers can help your small business with things like:
- Business formation.
- Legal Advice.
- Litigation issues.
- Substantive legal work.
- Transactional work, such as lease agreements.
Most of the time, if you are considering hiring a paralegal for your small business, you may as well hire a freelance lawyer who will have much more expertise and be able to approach issues in a more critical and in-depth manner. Contrary to popular belief, paralegals are not always less expensive than lawyers. A freelance lawyer often charges a similar rate to a paralegal. The key thing to remember is lawyers are able to take on paralegal work whereas paralegals are not able to take on all work that lawyers can do.