Small Businesses Face Legal Challenges Alone New Study Shows Large Number of Small Businesses Don't Seek Legal Help Despite Risks
DALLAS, June 20, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- A new nationwide study released today by LegalShield shows a majority of America's smallest businesses – those with 250 employees or less – go at it alone when it comes to dealing with legal issues that impact their business. From debt collection, to contract disputes, to regulatory interpretations and employee issues, small business owners increasingly make critical decisions that could affect the success of their business without the benefit of advice or counsel from an attorney.
The Legal Needs of Small Business Survey shows that more than 13 million small businesses – nearly 60 percent of all small businesses – experienced significant legal events in the past two years. However, a majority of those businesses (54 percent) did not seek the services of an attorney to help them deal with those issues. When asked why they did not hire an attorney, 57 percent reported they believed they could handle legal issues better on their own, while 40 percent said they did not use an attorney because of cost concerns. The reluctance to use an attorney comes despite the fact that nearly all respondents listed at least one legal issue – debt collection, insurance disputes, government regulations, tax issues, contract concerns, intellectual property protection, product liability and threats of lawsuits by customers and employees – as one of the "greatest threats to their business."
"Our study clearly points to a dangerous cost-benefit issue in the marketplace," said LegalShield CEO Rip Mason. "A frightening number of small business owners deal with legal issues on their own because they don't believe hiring an attorney is worth the significant cost they have to pay. Fortunately, having access to legal advice and counsel does not have to be expensive. LegalShield Small Business legal protection plans take the cost-benefit debate off the table. For a fraction of what a small business would pay an attorney to handle a single issue, they can have access to their own dedicated law firm for advice and counsel."
Legal expenses for small businesses can be significant. Owners reported spending an average of $7,600 in legal expenses per year with 20 percent saying they spend $10,000 or more per year for legal help. With LegalShield Small Business plans, owners instead pay between $75 and $125 per month, depending on their number of employees, to have year-round access to a range of legal services they need to protect their businesses. The most sought after legal services by small businesses, according to the survey, are assistance with debt collection and review of contracts, agreements and other important business documents – two prominent services covered under a LegalShield Small Business Plan. LegalShield attorneys also provide consultation on such issues as incorporation, intellectual property protection, employment issues and vendor problems. Services covered under LegalShield Small Business plans include:
- Ten initial debt collection letters written per month;
- Three contracts, up to 15 pages in length, reviewed each month;
- Three business documents reviewed each month; and
- Up to 75 hours in trial defense services, including 15 hours of pre-trial preparation and 60 hours at trial, on covered matters.
"When looking at the data on the kinds of legal issues business owners are handling on their own, it becomes clear they are spending a lot of time on this effort," Mason said. "This is time they're not spending on growing their business. Small business owners have to wear a lot of hats, but being the company attorney is not one of them when they have ready and inexpensive access to advice and counsel through our small business legal plans."
More information about LegalShield Small Business offerings, including a complete description of benefits and exclusions, can be found at www.legalshield.com/legalshield-plans/small-business/.
This study of small businesses in the U.S., commissioned by LegalShield, was conducted over the Internet. A sample of owners and top executives of small businesses with 1 to 250 employees was drawn from the Executive Advisory Board®, Decision Analyst's online panel of managers, executives, directors, and owners of smaller businesses. Panelists were invited by email to the screening survey, and those who qualified were invited to Decision Analyst's DAISurvey™ website to participate in the study. A total of 1,007 interviews were completed online from May 2 through May 14, 2013. Statistical variation is 3 percent.
LegalShield is one of the nation's leading providers of legal protection plans for individuals, families and small businesses. LegalShield legal plans cover more than 1.4 million families, 3.5 million lives and 37,000 small businesses across North America. More than 34,000 companies offer LegalShield plans to their employees as a voluntary benefit. For as low as $17 per month for an individual or family, and $75 to $125 per month for a small business, LegalShield members get access to attorneys who are experienced in the areas of law that impact them the most. Unlike other legal plans or do-it-yourself websites, LegalShield has dedicated law firms in 49 states and four provinces in Canada that members can call for help without having to worry about high hourly rates. The attorneys at these firms have an average of 19 years of experience in such areas as family matters, estate planning, financial and business issues, consumer protection, tax, real estate, benefits disputes and auto/driving issues. In 2012 alone, LegalShield firms received more than 2.1 million calls from members. LegalShield also offers affordable identity theft plans. Members receive identity theft protection for the entire family for the cost most competitors charge to cover a single individual. For more information, visit www.legalshield.com or call 800-654-7757.