Avvo Study Reveals Small Business Owners View Basic Legal Help as a “Big Business” Luxury

Seattle, WashAvvo Study Reveals Small Business Owners View Basic Legal Help as a “Big Business” Luxury

To Help Small Businesses Get the Big Business Help They Deserve at Small Business Prices, Avvo Offers New Legal Services to Make Hiring A Lawyer Easy and Inexpensive

SEATTLE, May 4, 2015 – An April 2015 Avvo, Inc. study finds that many small business (SMB) owners consider lawyers a luxury for larger, more established businesses. For their own needs, SMBs perceive lawyers as costly, time-consuming, and relevant only when things go wrong, which often keeps them from getting the preventative legal guidance needed to protect their businesses. As a result, SMBs take risks that could have expensive consequences for their future.

Just as Monty Python reminds us that “no one expects the Spanish Inquisition,” most business owners do not expect disaster to strike – especially in legal matters.

While SMBs go to great lengths to ensure their businesses’ success by employing accountants, insurance agents, and specialists, legal help is only contemplated when something bad happens. “I used to think of hiring a lawyer only if I was in trouble, like people do on TV when they get arrested. That’s when lawyers come into play,” said Alex Nguyen, a marketing and consumer experience consultant in Washington state. “Since I always follow the law, I didn’t think of hiring a lawyer.”

Alex is not alone. Even business owners who do proactively think about their legal needs delay hiring an attorney due to cost concerns or the perceived time required to find the right lawyer:

  • Less than 50% of business owners utilize an attorney to help prevent mishaps.
  • 51% say it is because attorneys are too expensive.
  • 39% say it is because finding the right attorney takes too much time.

While concerns about costs and time combined with the perception that lawyers are just for catastrophes keep SMBs from getting the “preventative lawyering” that large businesses regularly utilize, there may be another factor involved. Often what prevents SMBs from seeking legal guidance is the very thing that makes them successful – furthering the paradox.

“Small business owners seem to have what psychologists and neuroscientists call ‘optimism bias,’ which leads people to expect positive outcomes even when the facts don’t always support them,” said Nika Kabiri, Ph.D., Director of Consumer Insights at Avvo. “Optimism bias helps manage stress and build confidence, which are very important for running a business. The downside is that it keeps business owners from truly assessing risks. In many ways, it’s this positive thinking that drives their success. But it also could set them up for disaster.”

Most SMB owners readily address their accounting and insurance needs with help from professionals, but when it comes to legal matters, their optimism bias is particularly acute and exacerbated by fears that professional legal guidance is too expensive and a hassle.

“Many small business owners take the risk because the traditional model for legal services is too unpredictable in terms of costs and time – with uncertain outcomes,” said Chattanooga, Tennessee business attorney Alan Hall. As a result, many small business owners try to tackle their legal needs with Do-It-Yourself online forms and research. That approach can leave business owners legally unprotected but with a false sense of security.

“There isn’t a month that goes by that we don’t encounter at least three horror stories about someone who took care of a legal need using a legal form service or an Internet search and a free template,” said Portland, Oregon business attorney, JP Voilleque. “But in the end, these clients will tell us that they went from thinking they were legally covered with an online legal form, to finding out that they’re worse off than if they had consulted a lawyer from the start.”

With Avvo Advisor, consulting a lawyer from the start has never been easier. Business owners can get the legal advice they need to make better business decisions and understand their legal needs and options in a low risk, low investment way. A 15-minute call is often all they need to ensure they are doing what they need to do to legally protect their business, or it may alert them to the fact that hiring an attorney is a smart business decision.

Another option is to use Avvo Legal Services. Launched in February 2016, the service offers fixed-price legal services determined by Avvo and fulfilled by local attorneys. Initially covering routine legal scenarios for business, family and immigration, Avvo Legal Services delivers fixed-price offerings starting at $39 for a 15-minute advice session or $149 for a document review. Designed to make hiring a local attorney easy and affordable, Avvo Legal Services is delivered in three easy steps: 1) Choose the legal service you want and the attorney you want to work with; 2) Purchase the legal service you want upfront; 3) The chosen attorney fulfills the legal service.

As attorney Alan Hall put it when asked what message he’d like to send to small business owners everywhere: “How much is your peace of mind worth?”

Avvo Advisor is available online at https://advisor.avvo.com and the Avvo Advisor app is available as a free download from the App Store for iPhone®, iPad® and iPod touch®.

About Avvo, Inc.

Avvo is the leading online legal marketplace connecting consumers and lawyers.  Avvo offers on-demand, affordable legal advice through Avvo Advisor®, which delivers a highly reviewed lawyer for 15 minutes over the phone – anytime, anywhere – available online or via a free app for iOS devices.  In Avvo’s Q&A forum, consumers can get their legal questions answered for free by more than 200,000 participating lawyers or search more than 7 million previously asked questions and attorney provided answers. Avvo’s lawyer directory provides Avvo-rated profiles, client reviews, and peer endorsements for 97 percent of all lawyers in the U.S., so consumers can find the lawyer who’s right for them.  Avvo also helps lawyers grow their businesses with marketing tools and services including the Avvo JD App and Avvo Ignite, a cloud-based marketing platform designed specifically for attorneys.  Avvo, Avvo Advisor, Avvo JD App, and Avvo Ignite are trademarks or registered trademarks of Avvo, Inc. Avvo was founded in 2007 and is based in Seattle, WA.