In today’s business climate, every business owner needs to have a lawyer on their team. Lawsuits and other legal complications can arise, and you need to be protected. Are you a small business thinking about hiring an attorney, but not convinced? Here are some reasons why your company needs a law firm on retainer.
There are two professionals every business will need early on, an accountant and a lawyer. The reasons for hiring an accountant should be obvious; you need someone to help you set up your “chart of accounts,” review your numbers periodically, and prepare all of your necessary federal, state, and local tax returns. The reason for hiring a business attorney may not, however, be so apparent. A good business attorney will provide vital assistance in almost every aspect of your business, from basic zoning compliance and copyright and trademark advice to formal business incorporation, lawsuits, and liability. The initial expense is well worth it for the undoubtedly more expensive problem that will arise without the advice.
Your business structure will determine what liabilities you face, how your entity is taxed, and how your profits are divided. Here is a brief overview of the different forms of business structures.
Based on your needs, a lawyer can help steer you in the right direction in selecting the legal structure for your business. Some things may be obvious, like a neighborhood shop may not need to be set up as a corporation. However, some things may not be so clear like how you will be taxed, or what you can be held personally liable for.
You could have a great product or service but might face plant when it comes to selecting the name. Did you know that Starbucks was nearly called “Pequod’s”? Or that Pepsi was first released as “Brad’s Drink”? Additionally, a bad name may just be the least of your issues when you receive a cease and desist notice for unknowingly using someone’s trademark. It’s their job to research trademarks so that you avoid infringement and to scout any potential issues. Once your brand is established, they will also help protect your business’s name. Establishing a trademark can be research intensive and time-consuming. Having a lawyer take care of these matters can let you fully dedicate yourself to getting your new business started and avoid any potential conflicts before establishing the business’s brand and image.
Contracts play a major part in businesses, no matter what size. You will need them to handle sales, employees, and leases. A good lawyer at your side can help you develop contracts to steer you away from potential legal troubles. They can also lobby for your best interests in the contracts you make or enter into with external parties. The commercial property lease agreement is a contract that you will definitely want to look over with an attorney. Generally, these contracts are drafted by another lawyer and are made to favor the landlord. Although this can sound intimidating, you can effectively negotiate the terms of the lease with a lawyer at your side.
Most small businesses don’t consider hiring a lawyer until they are served with a summons and complaint. Terrible mistake. The time to connect with a good business lawyer is before you are sued. Once you have been served with a summons and complaint, it’s too late–the lawsuit has been filed and the problem has begun. Now it’s just a question of how much you will have to pay (in court costs, attorneys’ fees, settlements and other expenses) to get the problem resolved.
It’s frustrating to find out mid-lawsuit and hundreds or even thousands of dollars later that this problem could have been avoided by having the proper legal advisor on your team. If you are threatened with legal action, having a lawyer already on your team means that he already knows your business, which allows him to hit the ground running. Even more importantly, a savvy business lawyer will have constructed your business agreements in such a way that you will have an immediate advantage in a legal dispute.
When you’re dead, you’re dead. What happens to your business, however, will be whatever you planned for. What! No plan? That can be chaos for your family, business associates and the business itself — an avoidable mess. Don’t expect to be remembered fondly. You should not feel alone, however. Fewer than 30% of small business owners have a succession plan. When a business owner dies without a plan, what happens next depends on the structure of the business. Dodging death? That’s someone else’s department. But you’re an entrepreneur. You can determine what happens to your business by working with an attorney to create a result that you intend. The right attorney will help you craft the details of succession planning within that structure so that if you are gone your wishes and not the courts are granted.
If you are an entrepreneur looking for answers to your business questions or your business is being sued and you don’t know what to do, contact SODHI LAW GROUP by clicking here to contact us today or give us a call at (209) 287-3262 and we can get you on the right track!