A good business lawyer will help you understand the myriad decisions you will need to make for your business and help you start on the right track.
Depending on the type of business you have and the number of investors in your business, you will need to talk with a business lawyer about entity formation, copyright or trademarks, insurance, and other ways to protect your personal assets. The money you invest in a good business lawyer will save you significant money down the line at the beginning of your business. Here are a few ways a business lawyer can help you:
- Entity Formation. We like to advise our new business owners to form an LLC – a limited liability company (unless this is not available for your business type, such as a licensed contractor). The main reason is simple: experience shows that most small businesses will not hold annual meetings and keep minutes. Failure to keep up corporate formalities as a corporation can have devastating effects. A creditor can “pierce the corporate veil,” and a court could find you personally liable for the corporation’s liabilities. With an LLC, the failure to have meetings and keep minutes is not considered a reason to pierce the corporate veil in an LLC. A good business attorney will talk with you about the type of entity right for your business and assist with setting up the company correctly.
- Trademarks. If you work hard to come up with a name or design a logo, don’t you want to protect it? You can protect that name or logo by filing for a trademark with Trademark Office. And a business lawyer will help you understand the importance of doing this first – rather than waiting until you have established your business. The worst thing you can do is spend a lot of money marketing your brand to find someone else who has registered that name – or a similar name before you.
- Contracts. Contracts for each small business are a must. Some people feel that they can download contracts from a website, but do you know who wrote the contract? Do you know who it was written for? What state law applies? It is not a good idea to start your business with a contract from the internet. Let a good business lawyer prepare the contract you need for your business. Intellectual Property. Is your business a media, design, or another type of creative business? If so, you will find it much easier to deal with trademarks and copyright protection registrations if you have a lawyer. Even if your attorney does not normally handle intellectual property, they will have referrals for you so you can find the right intellectual property specialist for your business. Normally, these will be people the lawyer has worked with before and recommend based on prior experience.
- Insurance. Insurance is required for a business, but it is not enough. It would help if you had a business entity to protect your home and personal assets. Hiring an attorney for your small business may not seem to be a requirement if you’re not facing any legal battles. This is not true! You want an attorney who is familiar with you and your business, so if you do end up in a legal mess, they’ll be able to smooth it out hopefully before it ends up in court.
- DBA.Some people use a DBA for their business name. This is good to have, and a business attorney can help you with the filings required.
New business owners must hire a good business lawyer to assist them in setting up their business. You want your business to be successful, so be sure to start with the advice of someone who understands what your business needs.