The immediate role of a business attorney entangles providing guidance and other legal assistance that concern various elements of a business. In general, business lawyers assure that companies comply with miscellaneous business regulations and that all procedures in a company are aboveboard.
Business lawyers generally help with conflict resolution, corporate law cases, business formation, compliance, intellectual property, mergers and acquisitions, and numerous other legal matters that arise when operating a business.
One vital thing to keep in mind about business lawyers is that they do not address the same legal issues as employment attorneys. Remember, business attorneys are involved with business procedures and the overall layout of a business. On the other hand, employment attorneys deal with employment discrimination and employment contract conflicts.
What Kinds of Lawsuits do Business Lawyers Handle?
Business lawyers generally have a broad range of skills and are prepared to manage diverse business-related matters. Some examples of everyday legal topics that business lawyers may encounter daily include:
- Business or contract conflicts;
- Real estate or business property cases;
- Registration of intellectual property (e.g., copyrights, trademarks, patents, etc.);
- Inappropriate use of guarded data (e.g., privacy matters, security breaches, data governance, etc.);
- Disputes in association with the sale and acquisition of businesses, stocks, securities, and so on;
- Compliance with business rules and other applicable regulations;
- Registration of business structure, federal and state tax identification numbers, and required licenses; or
- Interstate and global business cases (e.g., transportation of goods, etc.).
Business attorneys can supply a whole host of legal assistance. Depending on the case, this may entail completing transactional duties, such as preparing contracts and business tax filings. Some business attorneys do case-based work like representing a client in court or mediating terms to get a settlement arrangement.
What Other Problems Do Business Attorneys Manage?
Some other less common problems that a business attorney may address include:
- Transferring ownership or stakes in a business;
- Managing the “wind-up” operation (i.e., the processes needed to dissolve a business);
- Aiding a company to adjust to specific modifications in the law or new ownership;
- Changing the structure of a business (e.g., going from an LLC to filing as a C corporation); or
- Inspecting, crafting, and negotiating various business contracts.
Many of the issues mentioned above and assignments that business lawyers handle daily may also depend on the business size and industry. For example, a small business attorney may be hired to handle every small business or startup enterprise aspect. This may include anything from structuring the business to examining compliance issues regularly.
Business attorneys who work for big corporations may specialize in specific business areas. For example, an entirely in-house team of legal experts may only address compliance issues, or the corporation may only employ outside counsel for litigation purposes.
Ultimately, business lawyers’ wide range of wisdom involving legal matters that impact businesses may also make them excellent candidates to serve as an expert in a lawsuit. For example, assume the court or a party needs more details about a distinct kind of business technique. In that case, an experienced business lawyer can be hired and consulted as an expert witness.
What Should I Assess When Employing a Business Lawyer?
There are many elements to contemplate when hiring a business lawyer. The following list provides some broad guidelines that may assist when scouring for the right business attorney:
- Credentials and specializations: While it may not be necessary to hire the finest lawyer in the nation to file paperwork to create a Limited Liability Company (“LLC”), enterprises involved in multi-billion dollar mergers will most likely want the most brilliant lawyers haggling on their behalf. Also, a general business attorney can file LLC paperwork, but a party may wish to employ a corporate lawyer for a merger especially.
- Therefore, to narrow down a probe, start skimming for lawyers who specialize in the area of law that the problem falls under and decide whether their diploma (e.g., what law school they graduated from) matters.
- Lawyer fees: Before officially employing an attorney, ask what their prices are and how they are structured (e.g., flat rate, hourly, etc.). In resuming the above illustration, an individual should not be billed $1,000 per hour to simply file LLC paperwork, but they may be billed at that rate for a prominent corporate union. It may also help to have a budget in mind when searching.
- Investigation: Conduct background research on the lawyer. Read firm biographies, look for customer reviews, speak to other lawyers, ask for suggestions from friends and family, check LegalMatch, and so on. Frequently, a person can find a good attorney through word-of-mouth advice.
- Location: Though not every legal issue will require employing a lawyer who practices in the same state, a person should aim to find one as close to their dwelling or legal problem as feasible. This way, they will not have to explore for a new business attorney if a dispute arises and they need to appear in court. Also, depending on the problem, a local attorney may be a more suitable option if the case involves the laws of a specific jurisdiction.
- Firm/Resources: Aside from investigating the attorney, clients should also analyze their firm and what other help they can bring to the table. For example, can the firm introduce them to possible business associates, prospective clients, or other types of lawyers? Find out whether the firm regularly deals with the case at hand and their win rate in the past on such issues.
- Grounds for hiring: Always understand precisely why an attorney is being hired. This can help focus the above factors, narrowing the search and demonstrating how long the professional relationship should endure. For instance, a startup may want to employ a lawyer handling everything from filing to raising funds for future employment issues.
- In distinction, a small business owner may only need to employ a lawyer for a short period of time, such as when they require immediate guidance on taxes or one-time help filing their corporation’s trademark application.
Sometimes, a prospective attorney may check all these boxes, but a customer may not feel comfortable working with them for whatever cause. If nothing else, clients must work with the lawyer they hire and trust that they will help them make the right judgments. As such, while it may not be an actual science, there are some examples where a client may be better off trusting their instinct above all else.
Should I Hire a Business Lawyer?
Although not every situation will require the assistance of a business lawyer, there are certain issues where it may be in your best interest to hire a local business lawyer for further legal advice. For instance, you may want to consider retaining a lawyer if you encounter a legal issue that must be addressed in court. Under these circumstances, a lawyer will be useful in providing advice and helping you prepare a case, and providing representation in court.
Another procedure that may require the assistance of a business lawyer is if you need help starting or selling a business. Filing the paperwork to form a company may seem like a straightforward and uncomplicated task at first. Still, you may want to speak to a lawyer before doing so because they can provide valuable guidance on the relationship between taxes and certain business structures.
Additionally, your attorney can also explain why a particular business structure may work better for your specific company, which may lead to creating a more successful company and can help prevent future losses.