Lawyer fees can end up being an astronomical part of your business’s annual budget, and working with a lawyer can eat up considerable hours. Even when you’re not involved in litigation, there are substantial costs related to employment, IP and commercial contract matters, among the many other legal needs that seem to come up every day.

From the minutia of paperwork to hiring and letting people go, business owners are conditioned to believe that they need to hire a law firm or multiple law firms to handle of every aspect of their legal needs. What I’ve learned in the last year is that there are alternatives to this framework.

Using new technology, I’ve been been able to almost completely eliminate of Pillow’s law firms, and we’ve saved tremendously since the transition. With the help of Zenefits, eShares, UpCounsel and other platforms, we’ve significantly decreased our legal costs and saved thousands of dollars.

1. Zenefits

In previous ventures, I spent 10 percent of my time buried in HR paperwork and digging through emails from our lawyers.

At Pillow, we rely on Zenefits to automate our organizational needs and most of our paperwork. This versatile HR service streamlines issues like employee hiring and onboarding, payroll, Affordable Care Act compliance, and benefits. It tackles nearly every detail of system updates, paperwork and employee data – all tasks that our team had spent many hours on in the past.

Before we signed up with Zenefits, we had to use lawyers to organize every aspect of our hiring and termination processes. We had to check in with a law firm to make sure that all of our documentation was in place and that we were fully compliant with state and federal regulations. Zenefits automates the entire process so that there’s no superfluous correspondence with a legal team. For example, when an employee leaves, Zenefits automatically stops their vesting period, without the need for a lawyer to oversee the process.

For new employees, Zenefits truly creates a professional onboarding experience. All new hires receive an offer letter that goes straight to their email. Before, they would have to come into the office, and the process would be chock full of paperwork. Their contracts are always easy for us to access online — another benefit that wasn’t available with a lawyer. It’s a fully transparent system, and one that allows us to significantly decrease our time using a lawyer — cutting the number of billable hours and ultimately enabling us to put those funds towards other ventures.

2. eShares

Since signing up with this service — which only costs us $149 a month — we’ve saved thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of our time. Instead of spending the day introducing lawyers to investors, I connect them through eShares. The platform has completely centralized our shareholding operations, increased accuracy, and cut down on spending.

What’s more is eShares digitizes all of our stock certificates and equity grants. We used big law lawyers for our seed round – which is always a hefty expense – and I was signing hundreds of stock certificates that I would have to FedEx back and forth to our attorneys and investors. Now I just sign everything at once, and it’s a 100 percent digital operation.

3. UpCounsel

Before we started using UpCounsel lawyers, we were spending on average $7,000 every month on lawyer fees.

As a hospitality startup with various niche needs, it’s difficult for us to find a lawyer with expertise in every realm of our business. Doing a quick search on UpCounsel for a lawyer that can handle exactly what we need has made running a startup an easier experience.

For example, we’re currently in the midst of shopping for a dot com domain. In these kind of instances, we turn to UpCounsel, because it’s an isolated task that just requires a specific structuring skill.

Hospitality contracts contain leases that are not part of many big law firms’ core competencies. Instead of spending $700-800 on a specialty law firm, we drop $200-300 on an UpCounsel lawyer who knows the process like the back of his or her hand. To top it off, we’re not investing hours in looking for a lawyer for a one-off legal task.

All businesses need legal counsel at some point, and legal projects can take up a sizable chunk of a quarterly budget. Zenefits, eShares and UpCounsel have saved Pillow immense time and money on tasks that we would have assigned to lawyers in the past.

Pillow is a hospitality company that makes it easy to manage rental properties and share your home with travelers.

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About the author

Sean Conway

Sean Conway

Sean is CEO and co-founder of Pillow, a company with a technology-driven platform that allows multi-family property owners and their residents to safely and profitably solve the Airbnb problem within their buildings. Prior to that, Sean co-founded Notehall, Inc. and served as its CEO until it was acquired by Chegg in 2011. For Sean’s ingenuity, he was named one of the “Top 25 Entrepreneurs Under 25" by Business Week in 2009. He is a positive innovator and is passionate about building companies that people love using and enabling their entrepreneurial spirit.

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