Small Business Brief

Attorneys & Legal

Attention, Business Owners: Lawyers You Need on Speed Dial!

As a business owner, you have to know a little bit of everything to run a business. You need to understand the many types of lawyers and when to call on their services.

It’s not enough to call on one person who serves as your consigliere. Attorneys typically aren’t general practitioners the same way that doctors are. Rather, you’ll find more specialized attorneys who are well-versed in certain subjects of law.

You may not need to have all of these types of attorneys on retainer. You may have one or two and call on the others on an as-needed basis.

Read on to discover the many types of attorneys there are and when you may need them.

Business Attorney

The most obvious place to start is with a business attorney. If you’re just starting your business, this is the place to begin your business.

A business lawyer is a type of attorney that has two areas of focus: litigation and transactional. Litigation business lawyers will come to the rescue if you’re getting sued by a client, vendor or competitor.

If your business attorney can’t be there on your court date, you can call in an appearance attorney to fill in. Learn more about appearance attorneys here. 

A transactional attorney can handle everything else. Business lawyers can give you advice on how to set up and legally structure your business. They can also file the paperwork on your behalf.

A business attorney can draft and review contracts, privacy policies, website terms and conditions, and more. Think of how many agreements you have to review, write and sign. A business attorney can make sure the verbiage of the contracts protects you and your business.

When you start working with a business attorney, you want to give them a clear picture of your business situation. Tell them what your vision is for the business and how you plan to get there. That type of information is valuable because they can guide you there.

Tax Attorney

You might think that you already have a CPA, so it would be redundant to have a tax attorney. Not so fast.

You can get tax guidance from both a CPA and tax attorney. However, a CPA is limited in scope in terms of the advice they can provide.

A CPA can tell you when it’s time to switch from an LLC to an S-Corp, but they can’t do the paperwork for you.

A CPA can prepare your tax returns, and help you if you’re audited by the IRS. They can’t represent you in court, should you be sued on tax matters.

However, if you find yourself looking for ways to leverage what you have and legally minimize your tax burden, you should seek the advice of a tax attorney. Tax attorneys can be of great help if you find yourself owing thousands in back taxes.

Trademark Attorney

The types of lawyers you need depend on the circumstances of your business. Do you have a logo or intellectual property you’d like to protect?

You should definitely hire a trademark attorney. For many businesses, their brands and logos are their most valuable asset. It’s up to lawyers to protect them by filing the registration paperwork at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. 

Attorneys will then send out cease and desist letters to those in violation of the trademark. They’ll also take companies and individuals to court if they need to.

If you’re familiar with the fitness brand TRX, you might know that they have taken knock off suspension trainers to court to protect their brand. They won in court.

Immigration Attorney

Some businesses might rely on foreign workers to operate. Foreign workers are common in tech companies and within the sports industry.

However, in the past year, the U.S. government has restricted the use of H-1B visas and in September, new regulations were put in place.

Applications for H1-B visas can be denied for simple clerical errors, typos, or anything incomplete. Agents don’t have to contact you to correct these errors before denying the application. They can outright deny your ability to get a highly-skilled tech worker at your firm.

You want to make sure that your business has an immigration attorney who can help you with obtaining visas for your workers. It’s not an easy process, and with the changing immigration laws, you want to have a solid attorney on call to help with that paperwork.

Family Lawyer

As a business owner, you may be wondering why a family lawyer is on this list. Your business is a valuable asset. In the event of a divorce, you want to make sure that you protect your business.

You could end up having your ex become a business partner as a result of divorce proceedings. You may not have the massive fortune that someone like Jeff Bezos does, but you do want to make sure that it’s protected.

A family attorney is also useful to have to help you create your legacy. You may need to create trusts and have a will in place that lets your family members know how your estate should be handled.

If you’re a sole proprietor and you die without a will, your entire business is at risk. Plus, your debts get left for your estate or family members to handle. That’s probably not how you want to leave things should you meet an untimely demise. 

Different Types of Attorneys for Any Situation

There’s a lot that comes up in business. When you own a business, your personal and professional lives blend together. You want to make sure that your business is protected in any situation.

By understanding what you need and what each attorney can do, you can be sure that you have the right expertise in any situation.

Hiring the right attorney for special situations also ensures that you have the highest level of expertise and guidance to help you make the best decisions. That will only help you as your business grows and you can eventually sell it at a sizeable profit.

If you want more great business tips and meet other entrepreneurs, be sure to take a look at the Small Business Forum.