If you want your small business to succeed, you need a business lawyer to ensure that your protocols aren’t at risk of falling outside the lines of the law.
Chances are, you’re going to get sued. And if you’re not sued, you will deal with legal issues.
In fact, 90% of all businesses are engaged in some form of litigation at any given time.
This is where a business lawyer comes in handy. Keep reading to find out what they are and why your small business can’t afford to go another day without one.
What is a Business Lawyer?
But first, the basics.
A business lawyer, sometimes called a corporate lawyer, advises businesses on their legal rights, responsibilities, and obligations.
They work either in law firms, where they counsel various clients or are kept on retainer, or a corporation hires them directly as in-house legal counsel.
Choosing one or the other often reflects what you want that lawyer to do for you. For example, in-house legal counsel is kept on hand to handle ongoing legal issues within the company, while lawyers who work in a law firm are usually called in on specific occasions when their client needs guidance.
However, you can use whatever arrangement works for you–small businesses may not have the budget to hire an in-house lawyer, so contracting with a law firm will serve your purposes just as well.
What They Can Do For You
We said that corporate lawyers advise you on your legal rights, responsibilities, and obligations.
What that looks like on the ground is pretty diverse.
You might think that you only need to call a lawyer if you’re getting sued. However, you may want a business lawyer to review your business contracts, or advise you on the legal specifics of a transaction.
Let’s break it down.
When You Need a Business Lawyer
There are some business issues that you and your C-suite team are capable of handling on your own. These include:
- Writing a business plan
- Reserving a domain name
- Interviewing and hiring employees
- Hiring independent contractors
- Applying for an employer identification number (EIN) for tax purposes
- Creating buy-sell agreements
However, there are some legal issues that demand an expert second opinion. These include:
- Former, current, or prospective employees are suing you
- Drafting and negotiating contracts
- Government investigations of your business
- Deciding what legal entity to use to form your business
Basically, you need a lawyer when you’re confronted with legal issues that are too complex, time-consuming, or full of liability to handle without expert assistance.
Why You Need One Yesterday
Now, before you decide to call a law office, like Verhaeghe Law Office, let’s talk about why you need a lawyer. Preferably before you get served a lawsuit.
Lawyers aren’t like first responders–their job isn’t just to rush in after something has already gone wrong. In fact, it serves you better to start working with a business lawyer before something goes wrong. Here’s why.
It’s a Relationship
Interactions with your attorney aren’t one-and-done deals–in fact, it’s sort of like a marriage.
You see, to give the best advice, your attorney needs to be intimately familiar with your business affairs as well as your short- and long-term goals.
Remember, it’s a reciprocal relationship. A great lawyer will give you an honest assessment and will tell you when an issue can or can’t be handled without them.
With this in mind, don’t be too shy to ask your lawyer questions. They’re here to defend you and foster your business, and it’s easier for them to do that if you understand why they’re giving certain advice.
Ignorance Isn’t a Defense
Business law doesn’t give you a free pass if you don’t know every intricacy. In fact, ignorance of the law is specifically not considered a defense.
And as a business owner, you simply don’t have time to know every minute facet of business law.
Instead of stumbling and making expensive legal mistakes, get a lawyer to work with you. The whole process will become a lot less painful.
Contracts Shouldn’t Have Loopholes
Just because you can write a business contract on a napkin doesn’t mean that you should. It doesn’t make that contract legally binding, either.
Think of it this way: the fewer holes there are in your business contracts, the better protected your business interests will be. As such, you should always have a lawyer involved when creating a contract.
It works the other way too–you should never sign a contract unless a lawyer has read it first.
Once You’ve Been Sued, It’s Already Too Late
Let’s face it. If the police are outside your door with a summons, you need to call a lawyer.
But at this point, you’re already in a position of having to defend yourself. The mistake already happened–now it’s just a question of what it will cost you to fix it.
Think lawyer fees, court fees, settlements, and every other expense that comes with being sued. And all of it might have been avoided if you brought in a business lawyer earlier.
They Know Your Business
If, on the other hand, you have a lawyer on your side before a legal catastrophe ensues, you can skip the niceties and get down to business.
Think of it this way: if your lawyer only jumps on board after a legal issue has started, they’ll have to waste billable hours asking your surface-level questions to assess your business and figure out how to advise you.
When your lawyer already knows you, your business model, your industry, and other essential information, you can get right to what you brought them in for. It’s more efficient (and cost-effective).
More Small Business Tips for Success
Running a small business is both an art and a science, and it goes beyond opening your doors and bringing in a lawyer.
That’s why we’re here–to help you figure out the intricacies of running a small business in less time so that you can get back to business as usual.
For more tips and ideas about running your small business, check out our blog for posts like these nine small business tips you need for success or this post about the eight mistakes to avoid when closing a business deal.
You’ve got a business to run. It’s time to get busy.