Why And How Did I Hire A Legal Expert? How To Cut Legal Costs by 90%?
Updated: Jul 3
Navigating Legal Waters: My Experience with Virtual Legal Hiring
I’ve read many tales of entrepreneurs playing with legal loopholes. Move fast and break things. Ask for forgiveness, not permission.
I couldn’t go that route when a misstep could detrimentally affect my family.
I hired a legal expert for Spark Creative Technologies. Here’s why, how, and for how much.
Why Did I Hire A Legal Expert?
I used to hire many freelancers for my business, Spark Creative Technologies. I wanted to hire for the long term rather than hire per task. So, I hired interns.
I’ll write another article about all the functions of my business I’ve outsourced and the varying level of success in them.
I asked for input from Irish entrepreneur peers on boards.ie and realized I should define an internship contract to reduce risk or liability. From the comments I received, it seemed I was playing it fast, breaking things, working through loopholes.
These were my 3 goals for the legal help.
Clarify whether I can hire interns. Are there some type of interns I can or cannot hire?
Can I hire interns outside of my country, Ireland?
Ensure clear written expectations with interns, explicitly stating that full-time employment is not guaranteed and emphasizing the ability to downsize with short notice.
Trials For Legal Help
I contacted the Local Enterprise Office (Irish governmental support for entrepreneurs). They suggested I ask my questions to the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (government). I could get advice for free, but I would need to put in more effort.
So, I contacted 3 immigration and employment firms. I asked them these questions over email. I requested for their consultation services. I asked them:
I want to hire Irish, EEA, and non-EEA nationals. I am looking to hire full-time
students. Hire them part-time and evaluate (continuation of) their role fortnightly.
Can I classify them as part-time interns (vs. part-time employees)?
Can I keep my business as a sole trader? Or do I need to change it to LLC?
Do I need to have an employment contract for internships?
Can I hire them as freelancers?
Can I employ non-EEA nationals who are on student visas?
What are the minimum process requirements for running payroll for them?
One firm was open to my request but would have charged €1,000 for the initial consultation. I also was irritated that the firm expected me to commute all the way to a notary or the legal solicitors’ firm to show my identity documents.
Given the steep fees, I ditched this route.
I did some DIY research, made some assumptions, and tried out two payroll software. Tutorials and customer support from Simplepay, ROS, and Sage were invaluable. These steps helped me get answers to the above 6 questions.
Taking The Law In My Own Hands
I tried writing a legal contract using templates from Law Insider and Iowa State University. I tried them for client-side contracts. I tried adding one clause to a template but got lost in the possibilities. I wrote in simple language. But, I was worried that is not good enough.
Hiring a Virtual Legal Expert
I contacted a few law experts on Fiverr. Here is what I shared with them.
I need help to get a legal contract written. I am a solopreneur looking to hire interns. I have a few concerns I want to address via the contract.
Why do I need your legal help?
to ensure my desired points (below) are included.
to include any required legal jargon from the samples.
To tell me what is not possible to include.
They had 100s of reviews, were based in different countries, but had experience drafting contracts for Irish laws. I chose to work with one expert for €100.
What Did I Want In The Contract?
I wrote down 3 sections of information to include in the contract.
None of the positions guarantee full-time employment at SCT.
You are available to continue work till at least March 2023.
You are available for a minimum involvement of 5 hrs each week.
We will evaluate your role each fortnight.
The evaluation is to decide whether to continue your internship, change the number of hours, change the internship role, or increase wages.
We will evaluate your performance in the role on 1) the north star metrics mentioned above 2) And on evolving needs of the business.
this is a virtual working internship. No office space, equipment, etc. will be provided or reimbursed.
Notice period of 1 week when intern is leaving. Notice period of 0 weeks when SCT removes the intern.
I want to call them part time interns, not part time employees.
No health insurance. No benefits.
This is contractual / has a 6 month probation period. I need the flexibility to end contracts.
I will not pay in weeks when the students are busy with exams or holidays (and hence cannot work).
There are no annual leaves or sick leaves. I won’t pay them for the time they are unavailable.
Employees can share in broad terms their work at SCT outside SCT. but not share information that will hurt the business or hurt our customers. NDA. not share sensitive information.
How Did I Work With The Legal Expert?
I shared examples and expectations with the expert. I had 3 example contracts of part-time hire from student friends. I also wrote an informal summary of my expectations.
Here is what I shared.
This is not a job.
This does not guarantee a job.
I might need to fire an intern anytime.
No or minimal notice period
I’ll only pay for the value intern delivers
Don’t steal my information / NDA
What Was The Outcome?
I was stress-free because I had a well-written contract. I could hire interns!
One lowlight in my journey was the high price of the first consultation with a legal firm. I felt I would not hire interns for a few more years.
Another lowlight was editing the horribly worded, wordy, make-Hemingway-cry, make-Grammarly-cry, hard-to-read legal contract. More about that in an upcoming article.
Illustrations thanks to midjourney.