Obtaining legal advice has become a luxury for many small business owners when profits are still low. Paying hundreds of dollars per hour to an attorney is simply not feasible for many Americans who are simply trying to keep their business and personal finances in the black. However, there are numerous ways for business owners to find free legal information.
Obtaining legal advice has become a luxury for many small business owners.
It must be noted that these free sources of information are not a substitute for legal advice that is specifically tailored to your particular state’s applicable business code, statutes, and regulations. Furthermore, specific legal advice may be needed for your particular business structure, specific industry, and any tax issues arising from the operation of your business. However, the following sources may provide insight and answers to basic legal questions you might have.
Free legal assistance is readily available on the internet for small business owners. The most important consideration when consulting online sources is to ensure that you are obtaining information from reliable sources. The following websites are good sources to initially consult:
- NOLO’s Small Business Section – The NOLO network has been involved in the do-it-yourself legal consultation industry since the early 1970s. Their Small Business Section provides relevant information for starting a business, running your business, business planning, business finance, and dealing with bankruptcy and other cash flow issues.
- FindLaw’s Small Business Law Section – The FindLaw website has a section devoted to Small Business issues similar to those addressed on NOLO. However, FindLaw also has relevant information on business finance, business taxes and planning, business contracts, intellectual property issues, and business insurance and liabilities.
- The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) – The SBDC’s website provides free legal information regarding business planning, opening, and management. The SBDC also offers free online podcasts and courses for small business owners. Additionally, your local SBDC district offices provide consultation services free of charge to small business owners.
- The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) – The IRS’ website provides information on taxation with free information on the issues surrounding opening, operating, and winding down a business. Furthermore, they provide free videos specifically directed at small business owners
- The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) – The EEOC provides free posters and publications regarding workplace discrimination on their website. The EEOC routinely conducts free presentations via their Outreach Program. Additionally, most state agencies that oversee anti-discrimination laws typically provide similar resources.
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) – OSHA’s website provides free publications for small businesses and compliance information. Their site also provides a free on-site consultation program for small businesses that request advice.
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) – The ADA’s website provides free resources on workplace policies, accessibility standards, regulations, and other relevant publications that apply to businesses.
Trade associations can be found for almost any industry your small business may be involved in. Many trade associations have staff attorneys and paralegals that closely monitor their respective industry and specialize in the particular area of law affecting it. Most trade associations provide free relevant legal information via their newsletters, websites, and email updates regarding changes in the laws affecting their industry.