Finding an Attorney, Lawyer, or Legal Services Provider for a small business is a common need for founders, owners, and operators. It is an essential business skill to be learned and exercised during the life of a business.
Typical legal needs might include: reviewing customer contracts, supplier contracts, partnership agreements, commercial real estate buy/lease agreements, a business buy/sell agreement, loan document review, intellectual property (patents, trademarks, copyrights), client/supplier dispute resolution, tax issues, employment issues, forming a 501C3, etc
Not all business issues necessarily require an attorney, some are online DIY. The State of Ohio makes it straightforward to register a single member LLC - see business.ohio.gov and the Ohio Start an LLC booklet at https://www.ohiosos.gov/globalassets/publications/busserv/llc.pdf It's often easier to use an attorney, but it can be costly and new businesses often have to carefully budget their cash.
Not every attorney can handle every kind of legal matter. Be sure to ask their areas of expertise and their experience in your type/size of business and the legal matter at hand.
Think of using an attorney this way: in most business matters,
- The business owner defines and decides their business objective and desired outcome
- The attorney helps you manage the business and personal legal risks along the way
A good attorney with experience in your specific type of business can also help you decide what is commercially reasonable in your particular matter
Tips & Tools: Attorney Referral Match
- Ask for referral from a friend or colleague who uses one for their similar business and or issue; be sure to ask the referred attorney about their specific expertise and experience in the matter at hand; it’s OK to decide not use them - its your legal risk, not your friend or colleague’s
- Many counties have a bar association with a Lawyer Referral Service (LRS) registered with the Ohio Supreme Court; be specific on what you need, ask for a free consult; interview several (they are also interviewing you)
- Cuyahoga County LRS by Cleveland Metro Bar referral service (also see their FAQ)
- Lake, Ashtabula, Geauga County LRS at https://www.lakecountyohiobar.com/
- Lorain County LRS at http://loraincountybar.org/page-1608835
- Erie & Huron County - see adjacent Lorain County, or Toledo LRS at https://www.toledobar.org/?pg=Lawyer-Referral
- Do a local Google Search such as “attorney for partnership agreement in 44004”
Tips & Tools: Need Attorney Services, but Short on Cash and Capital?
Some local law school clinics provide legal services for small businesses and/or commercial issues .... See examples, including
- Case Western Reserve Law clinics (including an IP clinic) https://case.edu/law/clinic
- Cleveland State Law clinics https://www.law.csuohio.edu/academics/clinics
- If you are an inventor looking for patent assistance, checkout
- University of Akron Law School SEED Clinic ($300 for up to 8 hours of legal assistance) https://www.downtownakron.com/go/the-university-of-akron-seed-legal-clinic
- Cleveland Legal Aid Society’s Legal Center for Low-Income Entrepreneurs covers Cuyahoga, Ashtabula, Geauga, Lorain, Lake Counties - see https://lasclev.org/get-help/community-initiatives/lowincomeentrepreneurs/
- Google search for a low cost internet-based legal service provider, see example of how-to and provider ratings here:
Tips & Tools: Are you a 501C3 Non-Profit?
Some attorneys, law firms, bar associations, and corporations are interested in providing legal services on a pro bono [free] basis for community social needs and benefit.
- Consider recruiting an attorney interested in your social mission onto your Board
- Ask your local county bar association referral service for pro bono attorneys for your non-profit
- For Cuyahoga and adjacent Counties,
- Cleveland Legal Aid Society will consider providing attorney services for a Non-Profit where the founder is in an underserved community or where the mission of the Non-Profit is to provide services to an underserved community - request at https://lasclev.org/contact/
- Also check out the Cleveland Metro Bar Reach_Out Program which can provide pro bono legal services to Non-Profits
- See candid.org pro bono help article at https://learning.candid.org/resources/knowledge-base/pro-bono-tax-legal-...
- Google Search for pro bono attorneys willing to help out non--profit organizations, examples include
Final Note: A Score mentor is a volunteer, can offer business advice based on their experience, and help you find an attorney or legal services provider, but we are unable to serve as your attorney and do not practice law or provide legal services under our Terms of Service.