Entrepreneurs who are starting or already running a business may still wonder whether they need a business defense lawyer. Most small businesses which do not have much extra capital to pay for the high rates of business lawyers prefer not to hire one unless the situation necessarily calls for it – that is, when confronted with a serious legal problem.
Whether you’re a small business owner or a part of a large corporation, professional legal assistance and advice is important for your business and it can even help you save money in the long run. Most companies certainly don’t need legal help for every step and process of running the business. So when exactly can you manage legal issues on your own or with minimal legal assistance, and when do you need to hire a business lawyer?
Legal Tasks You Can Handle on Your Own
Putting up and running a business definitely involve a series of legal tasks that you must complete in every stage of your business’s lifetime. Even though you are not very skilled and knowledgeable with different legal issues of a business, there are tasks that are fairly straightforward which you can feasibly learn. Learning how to handle these simple legal tasks will surely help you save on costs instead of hiring the services of a business lawyer.
The following are few of the most common tasks which you, as a business owner, can handle for yourself:
- Writing a business plan.
- Choosing a legal structure and creating a legal agreement for partnership, limited liability company (LLC), or corporation.
- Applying for all necessary business licenses and permits.
- Applying for an employer identification number (EIN) and submitting IRS-related reports and documents.
- Creating contracts for employees and clients.
- Updating of business papers.
- Creating agreements with business partners and suppliers.
- Applying for a business loan.
Legal Issues that Need a Business Lawyer
There are times when a business encounters legal issues that are too complex to handle. When your business is at risk of such issues, especially those that involve a high liability risk, then hiring a business lawyer is not just recommended but necessary.
The following are few examples of legal issues that a business may encounter during its lifetime:
- Creating of non-disclosure agreement (NDA) for employees. The main purpose of creating an NDA for employees is to make it clear that they cannot disclose our trade secrets without permission, even when they are no longer connected with your company. NDAs must be carefully crafted by legal attorneys to ensure that all necessary details are included in the agreement and that it is legally binding.
- Employee lawsuit. This is a typical legal issue for very business and it often involves grounds of discrimination in hiring, suspension, firing, and hostile work environment.
- Complaints or Investigation of your business for violation of any laws. There are rare cases when local, state, or federal government entities will file complaints against your business or investigate you for any violation of law. This is one of the important issues that you should let your business legal counsel handle.
- Other white collar crimes and business litigation. White collar crimes and business offenses are now a priority to federal and state law enforcement authorities. Convictions of such crimes can sometimes implicate punishment more serious than violent crimes. Examples of white collar and/or business issues include complex criminal and civil commercial fraud, criminal tax, corporate and internal investigations, environmental issues, securities fraud litigation, subpoena compliance, insurance fraud investigations, and more.
Important Tips When Hiring a Business Lawyer
While you certainly need to hire a business legal counsel for issues stated above, as a business owner, you should be focused in preventing such issues to happen in the first place, especially the last three issues that were mentioned. However, for instances that you can no longer control and hiring a business attorney becomes a necessity, here are 3 important tips that you need to remember:
1. Hire Based on Experience
Not all lawyers are created equal. Some are more knowledgeable and experienced in certain areas than the others. You need to hire base on your particular needs, and ensure that you check the lawyer’s level of experience in the fields that you need them to help you with.
For example, if you encounter a problem with an employee and are at risk of a lawsuit, you have to hire a lawyer that is skilled and experienced with employee lawsuits and other labor-related issues.
2. Keep it Local
Find an attorney who is within your locality. This helps you save time in traveling to meet with them when you need to discuss issues personally, and you can also save on transportation costs. Lawyers will often charge their travel expenses to you on top of their professional fees, so hiring someone that is in the same area as your business is a clever move.
If your business is located in Colorado, for instance, and you are faced with a white collar litigation, you need to find and hire a Colorado criminal defense attorney to represent you and/or your business.
3. Compare Costs
If the issues that you are facing is not very urgent and you still have time to shop around for business lawyers, you can compare their costs, level of expertise, and service inclusions before finally deciding which one to hire. Being in a legal distress will certainly affect your budget, and you don’t want to pay higher for the same services which you could have instead gotten for a lower cost.
Set Aside a Budget for Legal Needs
Hiring the services of a business lawyer can be costly. Aside from making sure that you take the necessary precautions to prevent legal issues that will compel you to hire a lawyer, it is also important to set aside a budget for this rare event even while you don’t need it yet. After all, while “prevention is better than cure”, to be prepared is already half the victory.