When you think of "risk management," what comes to mind? Like ISACA adviser John Pironti told me last month risk managers can (and should) address everything from credit risk, operational risk, legal risk and even information risk. For small businesses, tackling legal risk especially can seem such an insurmountable task that they shove it off to the side - to be considered sometime in the future, when they can actually afford it.
In fact, a recent study of 1,000 small businesses conducted by Zogby International revealed more than half of them are concerned about the cost of getting legal help. At the same time, though, 25 percent said they consider legal risks to be the biggest threat to their business. So what's an SMB to do?
Earlier this week I spoke to Charley Moore, who founded Rocket Lawyer.com. The company offers cloud-based, crowdsourced legal services to businesses and individuals alike. The goal, Moore said, is to provide affordable, efficient service for routine legal matters. He explained:
Often I get the question, "Can a rank-and-file person at the average company write legal contracts?" The answer is no. But they can answer questions about the situation, and then our document-assembly engine does the rest.
It's a TurboTax-like experience. Based on the user's answers to questions about the situation, the decision engine pulls the appropriate contract provisions and compiles them into a custom-made legal document.
So how do you know the document is enforceable? "We have a cadre of attorneys in all 50 states who are constantly updating these provisions," Moore said. And in the event that the user wants to engage an attorney to review the document or otherwise advise him or or her on the situation, Rocket Lawyer can facilitate that as well. Moore said:
There are more than 700,000 solo and small-office attorneys around the country who are more than competent to handle most routine legal matters... How great is it to find a lawyer located in a smaller town? He's still a licensed attorney, subject to all the obligations of any other attorney in that state, but his fees may be significantly lower...
And because Rocket Lawyer is a cloud-based business that supports collaboration and sharing, you can see all the changes or recommendations the lawyer makes to your documents, you can exchange comments and notes. After the document is complete, you also have a record of everything that was done and who made what changes when because everything you do on Rocket Lawyer is archived.