Hiring a reliable and competent business lawyer is essential for business owners, due to all the crucial decisions being made daily that will affect not just their business, but also the lives of their employees and customers.
When starting a business or keeping one running smoothly, it can be challenging to know when and how to seek the right professional services from an attorney. Here is a helpful guide for businessmen, especially those with a startup in their hands.
5 Situations that Require a Corporate Attorney
Before acquiring specific services — like corporate legal counsel — for your business, you must first determine whether there’s a need for one. After all, no businessman would want to spend their hard-earned profits on something that won’t contribute to their company’s success.
If you own a startup, you may need a corporate lawyer more often than you think. Day-to-day operations require thorough thinking and, sometimes, some legal actions to make things work.
With that said, below are five situations that require the help of a business lawyer:
1. Starting, expanding, or changing business
Before making major decisions that can either destroy your business or usher it towards the pinnacle of success, you should consult a legal expert first. Whether you’re expanding your company or changing its form, it is important that you consider all your options as well as the legal implications your decision may entail.
If you’re planning to change your firm from a limited liability company (or LLC, for short) into a corporation, for example, corporate lawyers can help you with the necessary paperwork. They can also provide sound legal advice if you are planning on adding products and services to your company’s lineup while ensuring that your plan will help your business grow — or, at least, minimize the damage should it fail to meet expectations.
2. Dealing with a lawsuit
Dealing with a lawsuit is probably the most obvious situation that requires a corporate lawyer, but it is worth adding to the list for good measure. This is because once you have been served a notice that your company is being sued, time is no longer on your side.
You would need to respond to the lawsuit promptly to prevent a decision from being made before you even get the chance to defend your company. To do this, you must have a corporate lawyer on standby who can offer countermeasures anytime such a situation arises.
3. Entering a contract
Contracts are legally binding documents that entail specific terms and conditions. This puts verbal agreements in the black-and-white form to ensure that all parties involved abide by the agreement. Having a business attorney not only aids in processing documents, but also ensures that the provisions in contracts are beneficial for your company.
One example of contracts is that your company may need to enter leases, which are commonly applied for office spaces, retail stores, and warehouses. In this situation, a lawyer can help you add provisions based on your negotiations even when the lease form and contract are already printed through what’s called a “tenant’s addendum.”
4. Protecting your intellectual property rights
If your business belongs to the design and media industries which require the creation of unique images, logos, manuscripts, music, and even technological innovations, you would need a lawyer to help you protect your intellectual property.
Intellectual properties are intangible assets that can be converted into profitable products. A lawyer can help you with the copyright, trademark, and patent application processes to ensure that no other entity takes advantage of the idea birthed by your company without your expressed consent.
5. Filing for licenses and taxes
While your accountant can file your taxes on your behalf, business lawyers can help in terms of the registration of your business state and federal tax identification. They can also provide ample support and guidance related to the consequences of such transactions rather than just recording cash flow and other business transactions your company may engage in.
4 Things to Look For in a Good Business Lawyer
The process of hiring a corporate lawyer is akin to choosing an employee or contractor for a specific job. It involves a two-step selection process that entails researching the candidates and conducting a face-to-face interview to learn how they fit with your business’s needs.
In these two main steps, you should be able to grasp which candidate can serve as your business attorney based on the following criteria:
1. Fee Structure
Like choosing a contractor or vendor for a specific product or service, one major consideration when selecting a good business lawyer for your company is the cost.
While it may be tempting to get the cheapest available option, you should think it through thoroughly as some fee structures may not include the most important services you require. Make sure to go through a candidate’s rates and compare those with the services that go with them to know whether you’ll be getting real value for your money.
Another important criterion for choosing a good corporate attorney is the extent of their experience which, in this case, covers their areas of expertise rather than years of experience.
If your company engages in media and other creative-related services, you should choose a lawyer who has handled intellectual property ownership over one whose experience covers criminal cases, even if the latter has practised law longer than the former. Having industry-specific knowledge of your target market is also a great advantage.
3. Clientele, Reputation, and Track Record
Reviewing each candidate’s clientele is also a significant part of selecting the right corporate lawyer for your firm as it would show you how well he was able to perform his duties as legal counsel in the past. Checking with the bar association in the lawyer’s place of origin is also a great way to learn more about his track record and reputation.
4. Client Relations and Availability
When choosing a lawyer, wisdom and experience won’t be much of a benefit if he isn’t available when you need him. Because of this, you have to make sure that the corporate attorney you choose can accommodate your needs as a client right when you need it.
To achieve this, you must first decide whether you require legal counsel for a short period or if you are looking for a more long-term relationship. Checking how well they handle customer feedback and queries can also help you decide whether to close a deal with the lawyer or not.
A Final Word
Hiring a corporate lawyer can be a challenging task if you don’t have the right knowledge to do it. This article can serve as a guide for startup businesses and experienced entrepreneurs alike in deciding when to get a corporate lawyer and how to choose the right one that fits their unique legal needs.