Worth the Risk? The Cost of Doing Business without Legal Counsel

By: Jonathan Simms

The costs of hiring an attorney are typically counted in dollars and cents, the costs of not hiring an attorney can often be difficult to quantify and can be much larger than the legal costs may have been. People considering whether to hire an attorney often focus on how much money they will have to spend to retain the attorney, to pay for experts, and to pay for other associated costs. It is a common difficulty, however, to assess the possible costs of not hiring an attorney.

As with all matters in the law, it is complicated to attempt to assess these costs. Also, the costs vary based upon type of injury. In a car crash case, most major insurance companies are extremely practiced in convincing the victim that he should take a small fraction of what his probable recovery may be. This cost is almost never recorded because the victim that settles with the insurance company for $5,000 when she could have recovered $20,000 doesn’t tell anyone and there is often a confidentiality requirement. Furthermore, another plaintiff may hire an attorney who recovers her a just amount – and there are almost no ways to record the value that hiring an attorney provided to her.

Similarly, small businesses and government contractors may be in business for years before hiring an attorney to assist with general business matters. The cost of not hiring an attorney earlier might almost never show itself. In business, the costs may range from an improperly phrased non-compete agreement to poor practices when executing contracts. Business owners regularly enter into contracts opposite extremely savvy persons. The costs of not hiring an attorney in such a circumstance can be great.

The costs of not hiring an attorney for significant legal documents such as wills and trusts are also extremely great. Many people use online legal document generation services, I will not name them, and many of those documents are not worth the paper they’re printed on. From execution flaws to old statutory codes, the reasons are varied but the result is the same: When you need it most, the document may fail.

Too often people focus on what is seen and are unable to quantify or appreciate what is unseen. The costs of hiring an attorney are typically not insignificant, however, the costs of not hiring an attorney when appropriate can wreak havoc.

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