There are two important professionals for every business- the accountant and the lawyer. The accountant handles all the numbers, while the lawyer saves you from being sued. A lawyer would provide you with assistance at every step, advising you about copyrights, formal business deals, partnerships, lawsuits and other agreements and contracts in the course of any ambiguity. But most of the attorneys charge a high rate, and small businesses usually do not have enough capital to hire a lawyer. So they get a lawyer only when the police are standing right the door and when they are serious legal or financial trouble. If you are already being sued, you are too late. Getting a lawyer experienced in business matters before you are in the mess, may actually save your business from the unnecessary money and time you waste in the court rooms or the dispute settlements.
When do you get a lawyer then?
You do not need an attorney for ever matter. There are cases you can handle on your own- picking a name for your business, getting a domain name for your website, interviewing and hiring employees, applying for an employee identification number, creating contracts and permits for the clients or submitting IRC forms. The initial paperwork you need to do to start the business doesn’t really require the assistance of an attorney. In case of any confusion, there is a step-by-step guide on the SBA.gov website that can help you with the whole process. Even the buy-sell agreements (when you’re in a business partnership) do not need much intervention from the lawyer. These are few things you may want to do on your own and save yourself some money.
While forming a LLC or constructing a legal structure for your business may not need an attorney, there are a bunch of situations where the presence of a business attorney is absolutely necessary.
(1) Filing for a patent- The whole patenting process is expensive and time consuming. Sometimes it takes years to get it approves. An attorney will help you with the whole procedure, preparing the applications and prosecuting the documentation, properly protecting the invention rights.
(2) When you are buying or selling business- Lawyers prove to be good negotiators, grabbing a profitable deal when you wish to make a sale or even acquire assets of another company.
(3) Formation of cooperation with the shareholders- A corporate attorney is required to handle all the administrative side of managing the complex tax and legal requirements.
(4) Dealing with lawsuits- Well, this is obvious! Lawsuits regarding any discrimination against employees, environmental violations, or any government lawsuits need a lawyer.
Hiring a lawyer for even a minor issue may prove to be expensive; consulting one won’t do you any harm. It is always better to prevent unnecessary costs when the lawsuit has already been filed, or tremendous amounts you lose due to an ignorant mistake in your business contract, you may rather consider a consultation agreement with a good corporate lawyer beforehand. Prevention is always better than cure!