What Does A Business Lawyer Do?
To put it simply, business attorneys help business owners solve problems. Perhaps more importantly, business attorneys help business owners understand the problems they’re facing and which problems they might face in the future.
• Starting a Business – Choosing between an LLC, an S Corp, or another business type? The wrong decision can be incredibly costly to fix and the problems might not be apparent for years!
• Writing Contracts – What forms do you need when hiring employees or bringing on a new client? Do they need to sign any kind of waiver? What should the forms say? Business lawyers can help draft contracts to meet the unique needs of your business.
• Disputed Contracts & Breaches of Contract – What happens when a contract is disputed? A client isn’t paying? An employee shares secrets? A business lawyer will negotiate and advocate on your behalf, even filing a lawsuit if needed.
• Mergers & Acquisitions – Thinking about buying out a competitor? Being acquired by a bigger company? Joining forces with another business? Don’t make the mistake of not having a business lawyer to advise and guide you through the process.
• Resolving Business Issues & Claims – Even the most prepared and well-meaning business owner can run into problems related to disability and sick leave, discrimination, sexual harassment, and workplace safety. A business lawyer educates clients on applicable laws and best practices, and represents them when an issue arises.
• Compliance & Risk Management – New and even established businesses benefit from an experienced business lawyer who can advise on compliance issues and develop systems to monitor and minimize risk.
• Real Estate & Property Disputes – Whether your business owns property or leases it, you’ll likely need the assistance of a business lawyer. Business attorneys negotiate sales and leases, navigating complex and confusing real estate and tenant laws.
Do Business Lawyers Go To Court?
Yes– but only when we need to. Don’t get us wrong – it’s not that business attorneys aren’t expert litigators who take great pride in representing clients in court in Utah. But often times there are a better solution to a dispute and save our clients’ valuable time and money.
When Should A Business Owner Consult With An Attorney?
Sooner rather than later. Even seemingly simple, trivial, and honest mistakes and misunderstandings can cost business owners many thousands of dollars to fix. And in many of those cases, a quick consultation with a business lawyer could’ve prevented all of those problems. As a business owner, if you ever catch yourself thinking “I don’t need a lawyer, I can handle this myself,” it’s probably a good time to speak with a business lawyer and find out for sure. Your time is better spent running your business than trying to resolve a legal situation on your own. Business attorneys provide legal services when it comes to the operations and regulations of businesses. They typically assist with issues like business formation, business dispute resolution, corporate laws, and sales/transfers of businesses. They may also handle other matters such as corporate compliance, securities, and other matters. Other work-related matters such as discrimination and hiring disputes are handled by employment law attorneys. In contrast, business lawyers often aspects that are related to the operations and structure of a business operation.
What Types of Cases do Business Attorneys Handle?
Business attorneys typically handle cases that involve:
• Business disputes
• Conflicts involving the sale and purchase of stocks and other securities
• Issues with business property
• Compliance with business regulation and laws
• Improper use of protected business information, such as copyrighted and trademarked materials
• Interstate and international legal issues, such as transportation of goods, etc.
Business lawyers can represent many different types of clients, including business owners, employees, insurance agencies, and other parties.
What Other Issues Do Business Attorneys Handle?
Besides litigating business disputes, a business attorney may assist with various tasks, such as:
• Helping to negotiate, draft, and review business contracts
• Helping with business start-up and incorporation filings
• Addressing business termination or transfer issues
• Helping a company shift or change organizational structure
Thus, business attorneys can be consulted for a wide range of legal issues. In some lawsuits, a business lawyer may play the role of an expert witness (for instance, if the court needs additional information regarding a particular business practice).
Hiring a business lawyer may be necessary in some situations. You may need to hire a lawyer if you have a legal issue that needs to be addressed in court. An experienced business lawyer in your area can provide you with legal representation in the event of a lawsuit. Also, you may need to hire a lawyer if you need help with other business matters, such as starting a business or selling business property. Working with a lawyer can help prevent business losses in the long run.
Among the countless worries for entrepreneurs who are starting or are already running a small business is the question of whether they need a business lawyer. The perception is that attorneys charge high rates and many small businesses don’t have much, if any, extra capital with which to pay lawyers. As a result, most small business owners only hire an attorney experienced with business matters when confronted with a serious legal problem (e.g., you’re sued by a customer). However, legal help is a cost of doing business that often saves you money and helps your business in the long run. While you certainly don’t need an attorney for every step of running your business, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of the cure.
Issues You Can Handle on Your Own
There are certain matters that are fairly straightforward and/or not unduly difficult to learn and therefore do not require the services of an attorney who charges at least $200 per hour. There are enough expenses associated with running a business, why not save yourself a load of money and do it yourself if you can? The following is a list of some tasks that business owners should consider taking on themselves (with the aid of self-help resources, online and in print):
• Writing a business plan
• Researching and picking a name for your business (previously trademarked business names can be researched online)
• Reserving a domain name for your website
• Creating a legal partnership agreement, limited liability company (LLC) operating agreement, or shareholder’s agreement
• Applying for an employer identification number (EIN), which you will need for employee tax purposes
• Applying for any licenses and permits the business requires
• Interviewing and hiring employees (there are federal and state anti-discrimination laws which regulate the hiring of employees)
• Submitting necessary IRS forms
• Documenting LLC meetings
• Hiring independent contractors and contracting with vendors
• Creating contracts for use with customers or clients
• Creating a buy-sell agreement with partners
• Updating any partnership, LLC, or shareholder’s agreements under which you are currently operating
• Handling audits initiated by the IRS
The above is not an exhaustive list of legal tasks which small business owners can do on their own. It should be stated that if your business is well-funded or you feel that you need the assistance of an attorney, you can always retain a lawyer to help you with everything listed above.
Issues Where You Will Need a Business Lawyer
Most of the issues outlined above can be handled by any intelligent business owner (if you can run a business, you can certainly fill out IRS forms or fill in boilerplate business forms). There are times, however, when a business faces issues that are too complex, too time consuming, or fraught with liability issues. At that point, the wisest move is to retain a business lawyer.
A few examples include:
• Former, current, or prospective employees suing on the grounds of discrimination in hiring, firing, or hostile work environment
• Local, state, or federal government entities filing complaints or investigating your business for violation of any laws.
• You want to make a “special allocation” of profits and losses or you want to contribute appreciated property to your partnership or LLC agreement
• An environmental issue arises and your business is involved (even if your business didn’t cause the environmental problem, you may be penalized)
• Negotiating for the sale or your company or for the acquisition of another company or its assets
An Ounce of Prevention
While you certainly need to retain an attorney for the serious issues above, your emphasis should be placed on preventing such occurrences in the first place. Prevention does not necessarily involve hiring an attorney, though consulting with one wouldn’t hurt. By the time you or your business is sued, the preventable damage has been done and the only question that remains is how much you’ll be paying in attorney’s fees, court fees, and damages.
For example, by the time a prospective employee files a lawsuit claiming gender discrimination based in part upon questions posed at the job interview, all you can do is hire an attorney to defend the lawsuit. If, on the other hand, you had done your own research on anti-discrimination laws, or you had consulted an attorney beforehand, you would have known not to inquire as to whether the applicant was pregnant or planned on becoming pregnant. The small effort at the beginning of the process would save you an enormous headache later. To prevent unnecessary attorney costs at the inception of your business as well as tremendous costs after a lawsuit has been filed, you might consider a consultation arrangement with an attorney. Such an arrangement would entail you doing most of the legwork of research and the attorney providing legal review or guidance. For example, you might use self help and online sources to create a contract with a vendor and ask an attorney to simply review and offer suggestions. Or from the previous example, you might research types of questions to ask during an interview and then send the list to an attorney for his or her approval. This way, you prevent the potential headache later and the cost to you is minimal because you’ve already done most of the work and the attorney simply reviews the document.
Business Lawyer vs. Corporate Lawyer
One of the significant differences between corporate and business lawyers is that corporate law tends to provide guidelines in purchases and selling of items, who are savvy in the sometimes bureaucratic process of selling services in an international market. Corporate law affects businesses significantly, with many companies involved in legal troubles due to a breach of a corporate mandate. In business law, lawyers cover areas such as employment and taxes. Corporate law embodies corporate identities and how they are managed and formed. Business law covers several areas of law such as employment and commercial transactions. Both affect business and business entities and can be an asset in any business, regardless of its size. These entities include limited liability partnerships, sole proprietorships, and mergers.
Benefits Of Hiring A Business Lawyer
Hiring a business lawyer early on helps you understand all the legal intricacies of the industry. When your lawyer knows the foundation of your business, he or she can help you see things from a different perspective and give you immediate advice when something goes wrong. If you choose a lawyer who has a specific interest in the nature of your business, you can take advantage of the following:
A business lawyer knows the specifics of the industry. Their knowledge about the whole process can be handy, saving you time on certain issues.
Aside from legal advice, a specialist can also assist you in drafting and negotiating drafts and labor agreements that will prevent disagreements in the future.
A professional business attorney can give you legal options that are beneficial to both parties. Alternatives, such as arbitration and mediation, are better than litigation, which requires time and money.
Advantages of Hiring a Business Lawyer When Starting Your Company
When starting a business, you may encounter many anxious and excited emotions with the hope of running a smooth and successful business. Unfortunately, issues and uncertainties arise, and you will need an attorney to protect yourself against liability and legal consequences. Having a good business lawyer will provide peace of mind and value to your business. Consider the following reasons for hiring the services of a business lawyer, when starting your business.
• Choosing a Suitable Business Structure: Choosing a proper business structure for your business is crucial because if you do not structure properly from the get-go, you may find yourself with unnecessary legal issues down the road. You will be exposed to more liability from partnerships and sole proprietorships than that of an LLC or s and c corporation. Consider hiring a business lawyer to assess your business and help you understand liabilities, tax obligations, employee inquiries, and setup costs, so you can decide what business structure is best suitable.
• Prevent Lawsuits: Hiring a business lawyer can reduce the exposure of your business from lawsuits, including employment lawsuits. A business lawyer will help get your business in legal order for state and federal employment laws. Being proactive before a lawsuit occurs will save you from countless headaches down the road.
• Drafting Contracts: All business contracts, whether for employees, vendors, customers, etc., should be reviewed by a business lawyer to ensure all necessary items are captured. Not sure if a transaction requires a contract? Hiring a business lawyer can provide you clarity while ensuring that a quality contract is produced.
• Protect your Intellectual Property: Intellectual property includes product designs, inventions, logos, business services, original works, and trade secrets. Protecting your intellectual property is vital to maintain your distinctive and competitive business. Depending on the type of intellectual property you have, a patent, copyright, or trademark can be filed. A business lawyer can help you protect and preserve your legal right to your intellectual property.
• Real-Estate Leases and Agreements: Unless your business is run from your home, you will be looking to set up shop in an office building, warehouse or other commercial space. Whether you are purchasing or leasing space, you will want a business attorney to review all fine print on all contracts, terms, and agreements.
Utah Business Attorney
When you need legal help with your business, please call Ascent Law LLC for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506