Among the myriad concerns for entrepreneurs starting or running a small business is the question of whether they need a business attorney. The opinion is that lawyers charge high fees and many small businesses do not have a lot of capital, if any, to pay lawyers. As a result, most small business owners only hire an attorney with experience in business matters when there is a serious legal problem (eg, you were sued by a client). However, legal aid is a business expense that often saves you money and helps your business in the long run.
While you certainly don’t need a business attorney for every step of running your business, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of healing. This article will explain when you can solve legal problems on your own or with the minimum assistance of a lawyer, and when you will definitely need a business attorney.
Issues You Can Handle on Your Own
There are certain matters that are fairly straightforward and / or not unduly difficult to learn and therefore do not require the services of an attorney who charges at least $200 per hour. There are enough account associated with running a business, why not save yourself a load of money and do it yourself if you can?
The following is a list of some tasks that business owners should consider taking on themselves (with the aid of self-help resources, online and in print):
- Writing a business plan
- Researching and picking a name for your business (previously trademarked business names can be researched online)
- Reserving a domain name for your website
- Creating a legal partnership agreement, limited liability company (LLC) operating agreement, or shareholder’s agreement (see Choosing a Legal Structure)
- Applying for an employer identification number (EIN), which you will need for employee tax purposes
- Applying for any licenses and permits the business requires
- Interviewing and hiring employees (there are federal and state anti-discrimination laws that regulate the hiring of employees)
- Submitting necessary IRS forms
- Documenting LLC meetings
- Hiring independent contractors and contracting with vendors
- Creating contracts for use with customers or clients
- Creating a buy-sell agreement with partners
- Updating any partnership, LLC, or shareholder’s agreements under which you are currently operating
- Handling audits initiated by the IRS
The above is not a complete list of legal jobs that small business owners can do themselves. Be clear that if your business is well funded or you feel that you need an attorney’s assistance, you can always hire a business attorney to help you with everything listed above.
Issues Where You Will Need a Business Attorney
Most of the above issues can be handled by any smart business owner (if you can run a business, you can definitely fill out an IRS form or fill out a form. business available). However, there are times when businesses face problems that are too complicated, too time-consuming, or full of legal liability issues. At that time, the wisest move would be to keep the business attorney.
A few examples include:
- Former, current, or prospective employees suing on the grounds of discrimination in hiring, firing, or hostile work environment
- Local, state, or federal government entities filing complaints or investigating your business for violation of any laws.
- You want to make a “special allocation” of profits and losses or you want to contribute appreciated property to your partnership or LLC agreement
- An environmental issue arises and your business is involved (even if your business didn’t cause the environmental problem, you may be penalized)
- Negotiating for the sale or your company or for the acquisition of another company or its assets
An Ounce of Prevention
While you definitely need to hire a lawyer for the above serious matters, you should insist on preventing such incidents in the first place. Precautions do not necessarily require a lawyer, although consulting with an attorney will not matter. By the time you or your business were sued, preventable damage has been done and the only question that remains is how much attorneys’ fees, court fees and damages will be.
For example, at the time a potential employee files a partial gender discrimination lawsuit based on questions posed at the job interview, all you can do is hire a lawyer to tell you. defending the case. On the other hand, if you have done your own research on anti-discrimination law, or you have consulted an attorney before, you will not need to ask if the applicant is pregnant or planning to become pregnant. . Making a small effort at the start of the process will help you with later headaches.
To avoid unnecessary attorney fees when setting up your business as well as enormous costs after filing a lawsuit, you may consider a consulting agreement with an attorney. Such an agreement will require you to do most research work and lawyers to provide guidance or legal assessment.
For example, you can use self-help and online resources to create vendor contracts and ask an attorney to just review and make recommendations. Or from the previous example, you could research the types of questions to ask during the interview and then send the list to the attorney for their approval. This way, you will prevent potential headaches later on and your costs are minimal since you have completed most of the work and the attorney only needs to review the documentation.
Get in Touch with a Business Attorney Before You Need One
You will not need an attorney for each and every legal issue that occurs in your business. But when you do, it’s good to know where to look right. And – moreover – you may not know you need legal help until it’s too late, as a lawyer can help you comply with the law and spot emerging legal issues early. Stay ahead of the curve by finding an experienced small business attorney at Lynx Legal Service. We invite you to contact our law office – Lynx Legal Service, or alternatively, send an email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.