As an entrepreneur, there are a lot of things to consider when starting a business.
Your attorney can advise you on things like the type of business you form and keeping thorough tax records. They guide you through the complicated employment process and creating strong contracts. They also strongly support you through any conflicts or incidents that arise.
Hiring the right business lawyer is important. It's also helpful to develop a strong relationship with them as your business grows. They can become one of your most valuable assets.
How to hire the right lawyer for your business
Business lawyers are not one-size-fits-all. As with all important relationships, it's important to make sure you're professionally compatible. Take your time in finding the right representation for your specific business needs.
Consider your company's needs.
Your company size and type can help guide you as you begin your search. You'll want to find a business law firm that has the expertise you need now as well as in the future. A firm that has a diverse skill set is a good place to start.
Finding a lawyer that has worked with businesses similar to yours can be beneficial. They will know the ins and outs of the types of contracts you will need and the issues that can arise. Knowledge of your industry helps them more effectively guide you in protecting your business.
Research attorneys and ask for referrals.
Researching lawyers can be mind-boggling. The sheer number of choices can be overwhelming.
Online reviews are amazingly helpful. Look past the ratings and take the time to read the reviews. You may find that someone has had experiences with a specific lawyer that aligns with what you are looking for.
Ask other business owners about their experiences with their attorneys. Referrals from others in your industry are especially helpful. Ask other business owners how they resolved conflicts or tough situations. Knowing that a lawyer has been successful in representing other business owners is a good indicator that they can fulfill your needs as well.
Conduct an initial interview.
Make a shortlist of candidates and sit down with each one. Ask thoughtful questions and follow up on their responses. The conversation should leave you feeling confident in their abilities.
Ask about their experience in your specific industry. Allow them to share why they think they would best represent your business. Explain what your goals are as a business owner and ask them how they can help you achieve them.
Trust your instincts. It's important that your lawyer is knowledgable and experienced. It's also important that you can communicate comfortably. Make sure whomever you choose to represent you is someone that you trust and have confidence in.
How a lawyer can assist your business
Your business lawyer can assist your business in a large number of ways. As you develop your relationship with them, they will learn the needs of your business. They will be able to make recommendations to improve the areas of your company. It's smart to get your attorney involved in as much of these business needs as possible.
Launching your business
It's best to use your business lawyer's guidance and expertise even before your company gets off the ground. Creating your company with a strong legal foundation can protect you in the long run. This investment will likely save you money for years to come.
Deciding on the type of business that you form is complicated. You'll likely have to decide between being a limited liability company (LLC), a sole proprietorship, a partnership or a corporation. Each of these has varying degrees of liability and tax implications. The number of factors in choosing which one to form makes it a complicated decision.
Your business lawyer is well versed in the pros and cons of each type of business formation. Taking your specific company and your plans in mind, they can help you decide which type to establish. Making this early decision wisely can set your business up for long term success.
Creating and enforcing contracts
Strong, iron-clad contracts are the best way to protect your business and its interests. These legally binding documents are essential in various areas of running a company. Having a business lawyer who can expertly write and review these documents is a valuable asset.
You may be launching your business with a family member or friend. Avoid an ugly situation down the road by getting the terms of your agreement in writing. Your attorney can create a contract to protect the interests of all parties involved.
When dealing with clients, it's vital that there is an understanding of both what you will provide as a business and how you will be compensated. Depending on whether you are a service company or selling a product, your needs will vary. A business lawyer can create a contract template that's completely customized to your business needs.
Bringing on more consultants and contractors is a great sign that your business is growing. It's important, however, to set clear expectations with a lawyer-drafted contract. This document will clearly outline the work that will be performed as well as the payment agreement. It will also create a timeline and protect you from liability and release of private information.
Complying with tax law is one of the most complicated parts of running a business. Your business lawyer's expert advice can prevent future issues with taxation. They can also find credits and deductions to potentially save you a ton of cash come tax season.
Your business lawyer can guide you in developing a proactive record-keeping system to make prepping for tax filing simpler. They will keep you updated on due dates and filing deadlines. You can concentrate on running your business while your lawyer ensures your tax compliance.
Saving money on deductions and credits is a great way to reduce your tax burden. Your lawyer can find many of these little known line items that can apply to your specific business. They can also help you structure your business so you can take advantage of them.
Protecting your property
It's imperative to protect your business assets. Your intellectual property is as important, if not more, than your tangible property. A business lawyer can ensure that you've taken all of the necessary steps to protect both.
You may have sensitive proprietary information that you need to keep under wraps. Everything from product plans to client lists are valuable assets to your business. With a nondisclosure agreement, you can protect this information from an unfortunate breach. Your lawyer can create this agreement and advise you on when it should be applied.
Unfortunate physical injuries can lead to costly lawsuits for your business. Protect yourself from losing your property or financial assets due to an unforeseen incident. A liability waiver can release you from being responsible for any injury that occurs to your employees or customers. Business lawyers have the expertise to guide you in creating this agreement if they feel it's necessary for your specific line of business.
Employment agreements and issues
It seems that employment law is constantly evolving. You can protect both your business and your employees by using a lawyer to guide you. From hiring to firing employees, legal guidance is essential in getting it done right.
Setting clear expectations for new employees sets the tone for a great working relationship. Your attorney can create an employment contract that outlines what is expected of them. It will also clearly state how they will be compensated and the benefits they will receive. Including confidentiality agreements and terms of ending employment are also beneficial.
A well-written employee manual can provide a reference guide for many employee issues and questions. Working with your business lawyer, you can create a handbook to outline your policies. Everything from dress codes to paid time off can be included. Having an open line of communication with your lawyer makes updating any of these policies quick and easy.
Termination is a touchy subject. Many times, employment agreements don't end amicably. Your lawyer can help protect you from disgruntled past employees.
A noncompete agreement can prevent former employees from using your information against you. It will also restrict them from going to work for a competitor and taking their customer relationships with them.
It's helpful to keep records on the terms of any terminations or employee conflicts. Share these with your lawyer and keep them updated on any potential problems. It's also helpful to consult with your attorney prior to terminating an employee. This will make it easier for them to represent you should any past employees accuse you of unlawful termination.
Unfortunately, sharp downturns in the economy or unforeseen circumstances happen. They can put your business in a situation that you simply can't recover from. However, this doesn’t have to mean the end of the road for your company. Your attorney can guide you through the bankruptcy process so your business can recover and even flourish.
These hard times can be overwhelming. Fortunately, your business lawyer is an expert at navigating them. They will help you decide on the right course of action to steer your ship through these troubled waters. Bankruptcy seems like a rash action, but it might just be what you need to save your company.
Filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy can help you reorganize your business. With the guidance of your lawyer, you can develop a plan to make things right with your creditors. You may even be able to discharge a portion of the debt you own. Your lawyer will present the plan to the bankruptcy court and with their approval, you'll be on the road to financial recovery.
The day may arise that your business needs to head to court. Your business lawyer will be by your side, fighting for your company and its interest. They will advise you to make the best decisions and work towards the best possible outcome.
Unfortunately, conflicts can sometimes not be resolved without legal action. As a business owner, it's important to keep your lawyer updated on any trouble you see brewing. This will allow them to best handle your case should it end up in front of a judge.
Heading into the courtroom can be terrifying. Your lawyer will be with you every step of the way to help guide you through the legal process. They can also help you propose a settlement if necessary to remediate the situation at a lower cost.
Your relationship with your business lawyer will be one of your most valuable additions to your team. Not only can they help guide you through the big moments of running your business, but they can also be there to support day to day operations.
Making decisions is a tough task for a business owner. Having a knowledgeable expert on your side can help. Bouncing ideas off your lawyer can help you reach the smartest conclusion. Sometimes, having your attorney present at meetings can be proactive. They can offer immediate advice and provide guidance through everything from transactions to terminations.
Your business lawyer can be a trusted advisor and voracious representative. Developing and fostering your relationship with them can provide you with useful resources. As part of your team, your business lawyer can help your business grow and prosper well into the future.