Lawyer can be a scary word, especially when you need one and don’t know where to turn. There are so many different types of lawyers out there, it’s hard to know how to go about getting the right one. Even if you get a referral for one from a friend or colleague that particular lawyer or firm might not handle the type of service that you are in need of. It can be a frustrating world to try and navigate around.
So What Is a Business Lawyer?
There is a lot to consider when running a business, and among the countless things to stress about is whether or not to hire a business lawyer. The common perception is that a lawyer will be an expensive cost, especially for small businesses without a lot of capital. Another common misconception is that you only need or should have a lawyer under certain circumstances (i.e. getting sued), when having a good attorney can actually help your business thrive and save you money in the long run. While you don’t need a lawyer present for every step you take, a little pre-planning will go a long way for the success of your company. So, what do they do?
Owning and running a business will have a handful of complexities or tasks that are too time consuming that should be left to someone dedicated and experienced in such areas.
A business lawyer focuses on any legal issues that affect businesses. Besides legal representation in the event of a lawsuit, there are many things that this type of lawyer can help you with. Owning and running a business will have a handful of complexities or tasks that are too time consuming that should be left to someone dedicated and experienced in such areas.
Why Hire a Business Lawyer?
- Contracts – Writing contracts can be tricky business, no pun intended. Having a professional who can read over terms, make sure your contracts are within federal and state laws, and look over contracts that you might need to sign will prove to be incredibly beneficial.
- Taxes – Your accountant might file your taxes for you, but your lawyer can help you understand any tax consequences involved in any type of business transaction your company engages in.
- Real Estate – Commercial leases can be complicated, especially when the lease agreement is usually written out to benefit the landlord or property management company. Your lawyer will be able to look through your contract with you and make sure that everything is on the up and up, and maybe even negotiate better provisions for you as the renter.
- Business Organizations – Should you be a corporation, a non-profit, or a LLC? Knowing which business organization suits you best, and even more importantly which paperwork and where to find it is something your business lawyer will be able to help guide you through.
- Intellectual Property – Many different businesses deal with intellectual property including media, engineering, design, and more. At some point you may need to deal with a trademark or copyright protection, or maybe even patents.
- Legal Representation – Inevitably mistakes will happen, issues will arise, and when that happens you will need a lawyer. It is said that if you don’t have an attorney before you or your business is sued, the preventable damage is already done. They will be able to help mitigate damages.
- State and Federal Compliance – State and federal laws might have different procedures to follow. Whether your business has grown across state lines or across oceans, things that seemed simple before may become much more complicated such as paying your taxes. Certain rules and regulations might apply to you that as a small business owner you weren’t aware of.
- Issues With Employees – Unfortunately with any business there will be at least one employee who has a problem along the way. Even if the problem is your fault, it is better to have an attorney on hand that can make sure that things proceed fairly. Issues such as complaints or worker’s compensation can easily be managed with the help of a good business lawyer.
When You Do and Don’t Need a Business Lawyer
The big question most business owners have is when the appropriate times are to call on your lawyer, or try to handle a situation themselves. As with any important decision, do your research and use your best judgement when choosing whether or not to do something on your own. If you feel overwhelmed, confused, or worried about whether you are doing something correctly or are worried about legal repercussions, call your attorney. Better to be safe than sorry!
- DO hire your lawyer if you are being sued or are worried about being sued by an employee, customer, or vendor.
- DON’T call your lawyer for writing your business plan or choosing your company name.
- DO apply for business licenses, permits, and an employer identification number (EIN) yourself.
- DON’T make a “special allocation” of profits, losses, or property without consulting your attorney first.
- DO have your lawyer help you when negotiating the sale of your business, or acquiring or buying another company and it’s assets.
- DON’T call upon your lawyer for documenting LLC meetings or likewise.
Always use good judgement when considering calling your business lawyer or not. It is important to weigh the situation and see if you or a business partner can handle the issue yourselves. Choosing the right times and circumstances to use a legal professional can help save you money and possibly a headache in the long run.