Every business will need to consult a lawyer at some point. Whether you are forming a new business, operating an established business, or winding up a business, you can benefit from the advice of an experienced business lawyer.
Many business owners wait to consult a lawyer until they are actually involved in a legal dispute. This is a big mistake that can cost you thousands of dollars.
Although business attorneys can help with litigation, their role is primarily preemptive. They can help you identify potential problems and take action to protect your business. Hiring a business lawyer is like creating a business strategy or buying insurance—you do it to anticipate problems, not to react to them.
Some of our work involves getting businesses and business owners out of difficult legal situations. But we much rather focus our time and effort on helping our clients avoid those situations in the first place.Business Attorney Trevor Brewer
Why Hire a Lawyer?
The needs of each business are different. Some small businesses may be able to operate with minimal legal assistance. On the other hand, larger or more complex businesses may need daily legal advice.
Whether you need to hire a business lawyer and how much assistance you need depends on both the type of business you operate and the specific issues it is facing. Here are some of the specific situations where you should consider hiring a business lawyer.
Buying or Selling a Business
Buying or selling a business is a complex process. It’s also likely that there’s a lot of money at stake in the transaction.
There are several ways to determine the value of a business, and a lawyer can help you determine whether you are getting a fair deal.
Your lawyer can also help you conduct due diligence. On the seller’s side, due diligence may include:
- Disclosing hidden defects or liabilities as required by law;
- Organizing important documentation to support your valuation of the business;
- Collecting organizational, financial, and other records that the new owner will need; and
- Resolving liens or outstanding obligations that may decrease the business’s value.
On the buyer’s side, it may include:
- Reviewing the company’s records and organizational documents;
- Coordinating with an accountant to review the company’s finances;
- Collecting information about outstanding obligations that the buyer will assume;
- Obtaining lists of the company’s assets, intellectual property, contracts, insurance, employees, etc.; and
- Checking for legal issues that could lead to litigation.
At the very minimum, it is important to have an attorney review your purchase contract to alert you to any questionable or unfavorable terms.
Starting a New Business
Many people starting a small business try to save money by using online forms. However, taking this route can be a game of Russian roulette. The DIY approach can be sufficient for those who get lucky and never face serious conflicts down the line with business partners, employees, suppliers, customers, etc. But for others, it can end up costing them many times more than what they would have spent hiring a business lawyer in the first place.
Some important start-up tasks a lawyer can help you with include:
- Choosing a business name;
- Determining the appropriate business entity for your needs;
- Drafting articles of organization;
- Registering your business with the state;
- Obtaining tax ID information for your business;
- Drafting an operating agreement;
- Drafting partnership or shareholder agreements;
- Obtaining appropriate insurance;
- Identifying licensing and permit requirements for your business; and
- Reviewing leases or other real estate transactions.
Getting these tasks right from the start can help your business operate more smoothly and avoid disputes down the line.
Protecting Intellectual Property
An attorney can also advise you about the best way to protect your intellectual property. This may include filing for a patent, trademark, or copyright. Your attorney can help you understand when each type of filing might be appropriate.
Intellectual property also includes trade secrets, such as secret recipes, algorithms, sales methods, training procedures, and any other internal process unique to your business. Your attorney can suggest appropriate methods to guard these secrets, such as nondisclosure agreements.
Establishing Employment Procedures
If you have employees, hiring a business lawyer can help ensure you comply with all state and federal employment laws. Your attorney can advise you on things such as:
- Wage and hour requirements;
- Workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance;
- Tax withholding;
- Employment eligibility verification;
- Discrimination and harassment;
- Employee benefits;
- Workplace safety;
- Required notices;
- Record keeping; and
- Employment policies.
It is easy to run afoul of employment laws if you don’t know what the requirements are.
Establishing Compliance Practices
In addition to employment requirements, there are various state and federal laws that regulate different types of businesses. Industries that are heavily regulated include:
- Financial services,
- Health and pharmaceutical services,
- Credit services,
- Restaurants and bars,
- Automotive services, and
An attorney can help you understand the laws that apply to your business and establish procedures to ensure compliance.
Any time your business contemplates entering into a contract, you should consult a business lawyer. Common business contracts include:
- Contracts with customers,
- Contracts with suppliers,
- Employment or independent contractor agreements,
- Confidentiality agreements,
- Insurance contracts,
- Purchase agreements, and
- Property and equipment leases.
Your lawyer can negotiate with other parties so that you can get favorable terms. They can also help you understand any risks or liabilities the contract may expose you to.
Addressing Business Disputes
It is essential to hire a business lawyer if you become involved in any type of business litigation. Common reasons for business lawsuits include:
- Partnership or shareholder disputes,
- Contract disputes,
- Property disputes,
- Personal injury,
- Employment disputes, and
- Intellectual property infringement.
If you need to enforce your rights, a lawyer can advise you of your options. They can also handle all aspects of the litigation, including filing, discovery, negotiation, and court appearances.
If you receive a legal complaint stating that someone has filed a lawsuit against you, you should contact a lawyer right away. You have only a limited amount of time to respond to a lawsuit, and failing to do so could result in a judgment against you.
Dissolving a Business
It may seem like wrapping up a business will be a simple process. But you have many responsibilities in dissolving a business, and failing to take appropriate steps can result in liability.
If it is time to close your business, an attorney can help you:
- Appropriately value and sell your inventory and assets;
- Notify creditors, suppliers, and clients;
- Terminate leases and other contracts;
- Collect outstanding accounts receivable;
- Pay your outstanding debts;
- Resolve ongoing obligations;
- Pay any remaining payroll, sales, income, and other taxes and file necessary returns;
- Cancel permits and licenses;
- Ensure you comply with any requirements in the business’s organizational and operating documents; and
- File necessary dissolution forms with the state.
If your business is insolvent, your attorney can also help you negotiate with creditors and, if necessary, file for bankruptcy.
Why Hire a Lawyer at BrewerLong?
BrewerLong has been helping business owners in Central Florida for over a decade. Our practice is dedicated to assisting small- and medium-sized businesses throughout every stage of their lifetime. If you are ready to hire a business lawyer, call us or contact us online for a consultation. We want to help you and your business succeed.
This blog post is provided on an “as is” and “as available” basis as of the date of publication. We disclaim any duty to update or correct any information contained in this blog post, including errors, even if we are notified about them. To the fullest extent permitted by law, we disclaim all representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, with respect to the information contained in this blog post, including, but not limited to, warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title, non-infringement, accuracy, completeness, and timeliness. We will not be liable for damages of any kind arising from or in connection with your use of or reliance on this blog post, including, but not limited to, direct, indirect, incidental, consequential, and punitive damages. You agree to use this blog post at your own risk. Regarding your particular circumstances, we recommend that you consult your own legal counsel–hopefully BrewerLong.