Any business will eventually face the need to seek legal advice, whether it's because of a non-paying customer, a trademark filing or one of many other issues. With attorneys usually charging hundreds of dollars an hour, however, the expense can be difficult for your growing business's budget to take. But the cost of not having an attorney can be even greater, potentially putting your company at risk for a lawsuit and leaving you open to being taken advantage of.

The internet has made it easy for professionals to get answers to basic legal questions, while also obtaining forms for filing things like patent requests. But many business owners don't realize how easy it is to get affordable legal assistance for many of the basic issues they face on a daily basis. Here are a few online legal resources that can get you by until the day you need full legal representation.

Through LegalZoom, you can access all of the legal documents you need to run a business. This includes paperwork for trademark registration, LLC filing, corporate name change, operating agreements, and more. You can also pay an attorney to review your documents and make recommendations for changes that will better protect you.

LegalZoom offers legal plans for businesses that are less than $25 a month. This gives you access to a professional attorney who will review your documents, give personalized advice, and protect your business. You can even speak to an attorney as needed for personalized advice on legal matters. If your business is a startup, you can get a startup consultation from a professional attorney to help answer all of your questions and concerns.

Billing itself as one of the internet's largest libraries of free legal information, NOLO posts consumer-friendly content that answers many common legal questions. In addition to serving as a library of information, NOLO also offers a variety of business-based legal forms for purchase on its site. If you need a non-disclosure agreement, to file a provisional patent application, or to start the paperwork to form an LLC, NOLO has those documents for purchase, as well.

In addition to providing the forms and information, NOLO helps you start the process of getting your idea trademarked or registering your business as an LLC. This includes error checking and unlimited customer support to walk you through the process. If you need an attorney, NOLO has a directory to help you find one in your area.

If legal documents are all you need, RocketLawyer is a great resource. The site has all the general legal documents you'll want for hiring and managing employees, doing business with outside service providers securely, and incorporating your business. If you're simply needing to put an agreement in place with a contractor, RocketLawyer is a good resource. You can tailor these agreements to your needs and require both parties to sign them before proceeding with your working relationship.

If you need legal advice without the commitment of hiring a local attorney, RocketLawyer can help with that, as well. The site's Ask a Lawyer section lets you type a legal question into a textbox and receive an answer in minutes. The site is free for one week, with a charge of $39.95 per month after the trial period is over.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) is an invaluable resource for small businesses and startups. The organization exists solely to support small businesses as they grow and, as a result, provides numerous articles and tools to help. The SBA's legal resource center is full of articles and legal tips, from intellectual property law to creating a privacy policy for your business. These resources are completely free.

The SBA also recommends businesses take advantage of the American Bar Association's Division for Public Education. The division's legal resources section has a large library of information, including The Law and Your Business, which answers questions about state and local laws that impact many businesses.

As businesses struggle with the many legal issues they face on a regular basis, these online resources make it easy and affordable to get help. The Internet also lets professionals get legal counsel online, saving them the time and money they'd have to spend meeting with attorneys or talking to them on the phone.

Published on: Sep 18, 2014