Q?Why should I deal with a business lawyer as opposed to doing some of the ground work myself?

Stevensen Business Lawyers works with small businesses and not just for them.

This means we think about your business and your expenses, not just the final bill. Yes, we encourage you to do some of the legwork, if you have the time and inclination, but with our guidance and an informed strategy formulated at the start. Not only can this keep your legal costs down, but we believe your input and active engagement in your matter could lead to better outcomes. An informed strategy can cut down the amount of time you spend getting the run-around.

Q?I’m thinking of starting a business. Why should I see a lawyer from the start? Can’t I just delay that for now?

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “you don’t need a contract – until you NEED a contract.”

The absence or deficiency of contracts is the single biggest legal problem faced by small businesses today. We regularly see the fall-out from having business arrangements that are undocumented or poorly documented.

Not documenting your partnership arrangement, for example, is particularly risky. Everyone has a different recollection later of what was meant at the time. This can increase the cost of resolving a business dispute as you try and piece together the collage of conversations and emails that you say maps your arrangement rather than a formal document.

Having your contract drafted by an experienced business lawyer can limit the risk of a future costly litigation arising because you have no written contract or the contract in place was not adequately tailored to your needs. If you do have a business dispute it is best to get our advice early on to set your agenda, rather than having another set your agenda for you and risking acceleration to costly litigation if things don’t go exactly according to plan. In the end it can generally keep down your overall operational costs.

Q?Why should I choose you rather than seeing my local suburban lawyer?

We’re here to talk about business – your business.

Unlike many local suburban lawyers we’re not side-tracked with clients buying property, going through a divorce, or planning a pre-nup. When you make a booking with us you will be seeing an experienced commercial lawyer without paying for fancy overheads you don’t need. Come and see for yourself.

Q?Why should I get a lawyer to look over my contracts rather than just copying someone else’s document from the Internet?

When you sign a document you will usually be bound by all of its terms even if you did not read or understand it.

It costs more to fix up a mistake than to get a lawyer to do it correctly in the first place.

We have seen “one size fits all” agreements being adapted without any input from a lawyer. The result can be dangerous. You risk entering into the wrong type of agreement (legal-wise and tax-wise) or it really might not suit your business goals at all. To avoid this, we encourage you to prepare a list of things you would like to see within your agreement, and then bring it to a reputable commercial lawyer. We can prepare a formal contract that protects you as well as being tailored to your particular requirements and industry.

We therefore strongly caution you against signing any contract before a lawyer has checked it. We regularly review contracts and agreements and can advise you on changes and updates to protect your legal position and advance your business goals. When you enter into so-called “Standard Terms & Conditions” of your suppliers without reading the “fine print”, you can risk facing Court action if things go wrong.

We can assist you through the entire process from the very start, as we tailor contracts to suit the specifics of a business deal, and to manage the type of risks that can arise in your specific circumstances.

Q?How will you keep in touch with me and let me know what’s going on?

We want you to be a client and a friend, but we don’t need to see you very often. After your initial meeting or consultation with us we will try to limit face-to-face meeting time. As small business owners ourselves, we recognise your time is valuable. We will use e-mail to inform you of any new developments on your case, and usually telephone you when seeking your input.

Q?What is a Solicitor’s Trust Account?

Frequently solicitors hold money on behalf of other people, for instance, money held on behalf of a client to pay for expenses such as stamp duty, or client moneys held on account of anticipated professional fees.

In New South Wales solicitors are required by Sections 135 and 144(2) (b) of the Legal Profession Uniform Law (NSW) 2015 to hold any such monies as trust money in a separate bank account, and to disburse those monies as directed by the person on whose behalf the moneys are being held.

Q?Why do you ask for an upfront deposit?

By helping us keep our paperwork down, we can keep our prices to you down. It is standard practice for solicitors to ask for a deposit that is put into trust. We ask for upfront payment usually of an amount equal to our fees for the initial legal work plus any upfront expenses (if there are any).

Your payment will be put into our general trust account and managed according to the requirements of clause 42 of the Legal Profession Uniform General Rules (NSW) 2015, i.e. we are not paid our professional fees until that work is completed and billed to your satisfaction.

Q?After you become my business lawyers, what do I need to do?

Be in communication, be upfront and give us all the information you can. You can ask questions, all the questions you need. After you sign or accept a written retainer agreement with us and pay your deposit, we will get on with the legal work. We may ask for further clarification from you of a particular point related to the factual circumstances.

With each step of the process we will encourage your input and aim to foster a teamwork approach with you. You know your business best and your insights can often be helpful in fostering our knowledge of your matter and ultimately tailor the legal strategy adopted to meet your specific requirements. Please keep us fully informed and tell us about any new developments in your case, perhaps by e-mail.

We encourage you to ask any questions you may have arising from our written advice to you. Often the process of our clarifying any issues raised by you provides an opportunity to fine-tune the strategy for meeting your goals in a particular legal matter. If at any time we use legal words which are unfamiliar to you or if there is anything being said which you do not understand, please tell us and we will seek to clarify what is meant.

Before finalising any documents we have prepared, for instance your business’s Terms and Conditions, we send you a draft to read through and ask for your suggestions and comments. At other times we may ask by e-mail for your clarification of a particular point. We value your feedback on any documents we prepare and the opportunity it provides for us to further tailor documents to suit your particular circumstances.