There are plenty of actions people can implement on their own when starting a new business or maintaining an existing one, such as forming a partnership, LLC or corporation, applying for the necessary business licenses and permits, hiring employees, etc. But as with most enterprises, businesses can quickly get complicated, and for everything you consider there may be 20 things you don’t. For instance, do you truly understand the complex nuances of corporate and LLC tax laws? Do you know all the environmental issues impacting your business and the potential penalties for violating them? What happens when an employee behaves improperly or sues the company?
There are countless possible reasons to consult with a knowledgeable business attorney. Forward legal planning can save you time, trouble and multiple times the overall cost should an oversight or error invite tax problems, fines, levies or lawsuits. Some prime circumstances in which having a savvy business attorney can help keep your business strong and out of trouble include:
1. Contracts – Few businesses can be built without contracts: those to set up the company and outline the duties and compensation of its governing people, those to secure the company brand and its intellectual property, others for clients, customers, vendors, marketers, and the list goes on. “A skilled, experienced attorney can construct a contract that is clear, precise and free from loopholes,” says business law attorney Jeffrey P. Skates. “From partnerships to shareholder agreements to mergers, sales and acquisitions, the right contact protects your interests and assets.”
2. Leasing Space – Let’s face it, real estate deals are usually set up to benefit the lessor or landlord. When entering into a commercial lease, a good business attorney can dig into the fine details of your leasing agreement and make sure they don’t have some hidden or deliberately misleading lingo designed to force you into a lifetime commitment or to assume the cost of damages from a leaky roof. Before you sign on the dotted line, consult with a business attorney who will be able to help you decide if a lease presents a good deal or a potential financial sinkhole.
3. Problems With Employees – No matter how wonderful your business or fair your people, there’s always a potential to experience problems with an employee. Maybe someone didn’t perform well and needed to be fired, or didn’t like the job’s demands and quit; maybe one employee harassed another – whatever the reason, an experienced attorney knows how to deal with a whole host of potential problems, including negative reviews, harassment claims, legal actions, workers’ comp claims, and so on. They can also create an employee handbook to help your people know up front what’s acceptable and what isn’t.
4. Handling Lawsuits – Now comes the issue of lawsuits, which can be instigated by business partners, employees, unhappy clients or customers, shareholders, lessors, even a passerby who slipped on the uneven sidewalk in front of your building. Hiring an attorney after a civil suit has been filed demands that your attorney start from scratch getting to know your business, reviewing your documentation and understanding the relative responsibilities of each person in charge. “Having an attorney involved in establishing your business can be of great comfort and utility should a lawsuit ever be initiated down the road,” says business law attorney John D. Metcalf. “That way your concerns aren’t being handled by a stranger, but by an attorney familiar with the legal expertise to position a vigorous response.”
5. Buying and Selling – Whether you’re buying or selling property that is physical or intellectual, merging with a competitor or making a major adjustment to your business model, you’ll need a skilled business attorney to make sure you’re gaining the most out of every transaction and never being taken advantage of. “Contracts, negotiations and tax liabilities involved in these transactions can be complex,” says business and tax law attorney Sarah E. Uhrik. “It helps to have a smart, dedicated business law team on your side.”
If every business venture evokes at least some blood, sweat and tears, a good business attorney can spare you from shedding more than your share. Whether you’re building, expanding or dissolving your business, first talk to the experienced business law team of McLin Burnsed.