Being an entrepreneur, you need to be aware of the tasks that you are supposed to handle on your own.
On the other hand, there are situations in which it would be wiser to consult a lawyer in order to protect your firm from wrongful suits and prevent any unintentional law-breaking.
To know exactly when to hire a business lawyer, get familiar with legal aspects that require one.
Your business needs
In short, the smaller business you have, the fewer are chances of needing a lawyer. In other words, a sole proprietor doesn't need a lawyer to start a business because all that is needed are local business licenses.
On the other hand, partnerships and LLC include more paperwork even if you are enabled to register online, so it's best to hire a lawyer in that case.
Lastly, corporations and S corporations need a significant number of documents because of the bylaws that need to be prepared. There is also the question of a complex ownership structure, so the necessity for a lawyer is clear here.
So, when you are starting a business, the chances are you will need a lawyer in several aspects (unless you are a sole proprietor):
- help with forms and requirements during the startup
- help with specific tasks, including trademarking the company name, reviewing lease papers, etc.
- doing the startup properly and according to the law
- taking over some of the tasks so that you can focus on other matters
Sometimes you will find yourself in a situation in which you don't know how to proceed. These are the moments when you should consult a lawyer and make sure everything is done properly. These situations include the following issues:
- coming up with a detailed business plan
- selecting a domain name for your business
- hiring staff as well as independent contractors
- doing taxes (otherwise, there may be serious legal consequences)
- drafting all types of contracts
- obtaining permits and licenses for operations
It's obvious that small business lawyers can be very useful in various situations that your business will find itself in.
As an entrepreneur, you have to be prepared for the fact that there will be some unexpected, serious situations. Some of them will be very time-consuming while others could even include liability issues or even potential lawsuits.
Those would be the situations in which you mustn't hesitate to consult a lawyer in order to avoid further damage. The best move would be to find a law firm that deals with different types of law so that they can provide you with comprehensive advice and support.
Here are the specific situations for which you would require a law firm like that:
- a former or current employee is suing you for whatever the reason may be
- a government or local entity is looking into your business to identify any potential violations
- a government or local entity is filing a complaint against you
- you want to make a special allocation of your income/expenses
- an environmental issue that involves your business in some way as well
- you are planning to sell your company and are about to negotiate
- you are planning to buy another company's assets.
How to hire a business lawyer
Of course, once you decide you need a lawyer, you will want one with enough experience to handle various issues in your company. So, you need to make sure that a lawyer in question knows their way about a specific field of law that is required for your business.
The best thing is to browse online and ask for recommendations from the people you trust and narrow down your options to a few law firms. If possible, find out who their clients are and what their testimonials are.
The next step is to arrange a meeting to ask them for more detailed questions. Some of the things you should ask are who will be responsible for handling your business' issues and how much experience they have with a company type like yours. Don't forget to ask them about their fees - whether they have a flat fee, hourly fee, or a monthly fee.
Where to look for a business lawyer
As mentioned before, looking for the right lawyer/law firm is a reliable source of information because most leads will come from there. Of course, word of mouth is a good source as well, especially if it comes from people you trust.
Running a business is never easy. You are simultaneously trying to make a profit, to expand, and to make sure that everything is by the book. If you don't have a legal consultant to watch out for you, you will make a mistake at some point.
Hiring a business lawyer is a smart and necessary move that will ensure you don't find yourself in a situation that your business can't recover from.