When you start a new business, there are so many things to consider, including whether or not you need a to hire a lawyer. For some legal matters, DIY isn’t a good idea.
Although there are some situations you can handle without a lawyer, you need to have one in place to handle issues as they arise. One legal misstep can damage your business and your reputation.
You don’t want to wait until your business is being sued to have a lawyer in place. A good lawyer helps protect your business and prevent these serious issues from happening.
Check out this guide to learn if you need a small business lawyer.
When You Need a Small Business Lawyer
Although there are some basic legal issues you can handle on your own, there are times when a lawyer is necessary. Trying to handle complex legal matters by yourself is never a good idea.
Legal matters an attorney should handle for your business include:
Forming a Corporation
Although you can form an LLC or business partnership alone or with little assistance, forming a corporation is a process that requires a lawyer’s help. There are complicated legal requirements and tax issues involved, and you need the expertise of a lawyer in this situation.
Protecting Intellectual Property
It is important for you to consider the intangible assets of your business. Your company name, logo, brand, products, and services are intellectual property and should be protected.
Copyright, trademark, and patent registration protect intellectual property and help give your business an advantage in a competitive marketplace.
Filing a Patent
There’s a complicated and time-consuming process if you want a patent. It can take several years for approval.
In some situations, a patent gives you an advantage in the marketplace. But, in others, the red tape and headache of waiting for a patent may not be worth it.
It is wise to consult an attorney to evaluate your product and discuss whether pursuing a patent makes sense.
Handling Employee Agreements
A smart business owner knows one of their most important assets is the knowledge of their valued employees. This is especially true for tech companies.
But many forget to have employees sign non-disclosure or non-compete agreements. These agreements protect your business when employees leave.
A lawyer can help make sure these important agreements are in place.
Handling Exit Strategies
You may be very focused on starting your new business. But it’s important to consider what happens if a partner decides to leave.
When a partner suddenly decides to leave, it can cause serious problems. A lawyer can make sure the proper exit strategy and legal agreements are in place to prevent a serious financial setback.
Dealing With a Lawsuit
Many small business owners put off hiring a lawyer until they are facing serious a lawsuit. But you need a lawyer before this happens.
Having a lawyer in place to handle your legal affairs can prevent an issue like this from occurring. A lawsuit against your business can tarnish your brand and force you to pay a hefty settlement.
Protecting Your Business
Not all small businesses are profitable in the beginning, and some struggling business owners face mounting debt. If your SBA loan is in default, you could lose your business.
Experienced SBA attorneys can often negotiate for a solution to your SBA loan default so you can keep your business afloat.
Yes, you can write your own contracts, but it’s not a good idea. Having an attorney create contracts will result in more professional documents and better protection for you.
You should never sign a contract or business document without having an attorney review it. This can save you the hassle of contract disputes in the future.
Keeping Your Best Interests at Heart
A good business attorney will keep your best interests at heart. If you have a lawyer you can trust, they can offer advice on a regular basis.
Their knowledge and experience allow them to recognize a potential legal issue and inform you of the problem. Avoiding a legal hassle can save you time and money.
Handling Complex Legal Issues
There are certain situations where having a business lawyer is a must. Some examples include:
- Lawsuits against your business for discrimination, sexual harassment etc.
- Local, state, or federal charges of law violations
- Environmental issues related to your business
- Selling your business or acquisition of another
These are just a few examples of the situations you would need a business lawyer. Although you should have an attorney handle serious legal matters, it makes more sense to prevent these issues before they occur.
By the time someone is suing you, the damage is done. At this point, you will soon be paying court fees, attorney’s fees, and possible damages.
Having a lawyer in place to consult with on a regular basis could save you from lots of legal headaches in the future.
Finding a Small Business Lawyer
You do not need a lawyer for every small detail of your business. But having a lawyer available when you need one offers you peace of mind.
If you don’t already have a lawyer in mind, you can always check with the American Bar Association. They offer lots of helpful legal information on their website.
They also have a data bank where you can check to see a lawyer’s disciplinary record. There are many lawyer referral services you can access online to find a qualified lawyer in your area.
You can use an online lawyer referral service or do your own online search. Try searching “small business attorney near me.” Or search by city and state.
As a business owner, you wear many hats, but legal expert isn’t one of them. A small business attorney can help you spot potential problems before they occur.
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