The prevention of serious legal issues is key in running a successful business. There are many things small business owners can do on their own, but there are some situations where consulting an attorney is worth its weight in gold.
It is always a good idea to be in touch with a business attorney before you actually need one. For instance, if a disgruntled employee files a lawsuit against you, having an attorney who is already familiar with your business can be an invaluable asset.
There are misconceptions about lawyers in general, but what many people do not understand is that an attorney, and in this example, a small business attorney, can be crucial to a business’ success. Whether it comes in the form of protecting the business from lawsuits, intellectual property theft, or if it’s to ensure tax incentives, lawyers are beneficial assets. Below are a few of the more common misconceptions about small business lawyers:
- “Lawyers are too expensive.” – Lawsuits are even more expensive. Plus, many attorneys offer their first consultation free of charge. It is also possible to negotiate legal fees.
- “Lawyers are self-interested.” – Attorneys owe their clients a fiduciary duty to act with loyalty, honesty, and care. This means that the attorney holds their client’s best interest first and foremost.
- “A lawyer doesn’t know anything about small business management.” – Business attorneys specialize in business. This specialty gives them unique insight into the inner-workings of business and the law, and can help give a business owner an advantage.
- “Lawyers are too risk-averse.” – This risk aversion is often what will prevent expensive future litigation. A small business attorney can assess liabilities before they happen, saving the business costly expenses.
It is important to do a little research before you hire a small business lawyer, and to also come prepared to your consultation with the following:
- Firm Size: A firm with many employees may charge you more, as opposed to a single practitioner. Keep in mind that just because one is larger than the other, it doesn’t translate into being a better fit.
- Case History: Some lawyers are litigious, meaning they take cases to court more frequently than settling out of court. Others prefer reaching a settlement beforehand. There are risks and benefits to both, so be sure to find a lawyer that suits your interests.
- Experience Matters: Be sure to ask an attorney about their specialty. Some are skilled in intellectual property, others in taxation, while some specialize in contracts.
- Caseload: Ask the attorney how heavy their caseload is at the moment. If they have too many cases, the truth of the matter is that your business will not receive the attention that your money deserves.
No matter where you are in the process of business ownership, seeking the advice of a local business lawyer is crucial. Taking this step will help limit your business’ liability and protect your intellectual property, but an attorney can also help you form the business entity itself and assist you with contracts and taxation issues.