Here are a few ways business owners can get free legal help:
1. Trade Associations: There is a trade association devoted to almost every industry. Most have legal staff that monitor the industry and specialize in that area of law. They provide free legal information on their websites, newsletters, and updates about laws that are affecting their industries.
Members typically receive additional training and publications. And membership fees are nominal compared to what an attorney would cost to provide the same information.
2. Your Small Business Development Center (SBDC): The Small Business Association’s website provides free legal information about planning, starting, and managing a business. The website offers free online courses and podcasts.
Local SBDC district offices provide free consulting services to business owners. Most also provide training and workshops for a nominal fee.
3. Online Resources: Free legal help is readily available online. The key is to make sure you are getting the information from a trusted source. I recommend these websites to business owners:
1. FindLaw: FindLaw has a section dedicated to providing legal help to small businesses on a variety of legal topics.
2. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) : The EEOC’s website provides FREE publications and posters about workplace discrimination. EEOC representatives do presentations for FREE through its Outreach Program. Many state agencies that enforce state anti-discrimination laws also provide these types of resources.
3. Internal Revenue Service: The IRS’ website provides free tax information for starting, operating, or closing a business. There are also free videos and presentations tailored for small business owners.
5. Occupational Safety & Health Administration: OSHA’s website has free compliance information and publications for small businesses. OSHA also provides free confidential advice for small businesses through their on-site consultation program.