A while back I was thinking it would be smart to consult with a lawyer to see what kind of things need to be done to set-up my business and trademark my business name. I was pretty sure, at the least, that I’d need to file for trademark protection for my company name and file a DBA (Doing Business As) which will allow me to start a bank account under the name of my business.
So I called a local lawyer who specializes in helping small businesses. You’d think that, being someone who is supporting the cause of the small business owner, she’d charge fees that small business start-ups can afford. Boy was I wrong. Here are some of her fees:
$200/hr. – for pretty much anything, filing the DBA, talking to me, doing work for me, I’m surprised she didn’t charge me to ask her how much she charges!
$500 – to do a thorough trademark search to make sure my business name isn’t in use, in any capacity, anywhere in the country. I don’t think this is entirely necessary as I will only be doing business in my local area….for now.
$675 – for her to file my trademark application and my intent to use application. This doesn’t include the filing fee charged by the trademark office which is $325!
Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t think it makes much business sense to spend over a grand on a lawyer when I don’t expect to make much more than 2K my first year in business. That’s half of my business income going to my lawyer!
So, at this point, I think I’m going to skip the lawyer. At LegalZoom.com I can file my trademark for $159! And they can do a comprehensive US logo search for $249! That’s light years cheaper (in my eyes) than what the lawyer was going to charge. The DBA will be around $154 to file. It would have been at least double that through the lawyer.
Legal zoom makes it clear that it is not a legal firm, but simply a service that assists with submiting legal documents on your behalf. So it goes with out saying that you should tread carefully when using it. They do a VERY good job of leading customers through the necessary steps for filling out a particular form, but, as I found out the hard way, they can miss certain things. I’ll explain more about that in a future post, but I will say that so far, Legal Zoom has been very cooperative and helpful in trying to get the situation rectified.
Now I wonder, with Legal Zoom and the amount of free information on the web, does a small business owner ever need to consult a real-life lawyer?