There are a lot of requirements that small business owners need to meet before they open their doors. Afterwards, they’ll need to stay vigilant to ensure their business is operating properly.
Store maintenance, employee and inventory management, overhead, insurance, and marketing are just a few of the things that an entrepreneur needs to address and maintain. But what about legal concerns?
To protect themselves and their company from liability, many small business owners wonder if and when they should hire or retain a business lawyer.
Whether legal services for small businesses are a good idea or a requirement depends on few a different factors, which vary by industry, location, the type of business, and specific aspects of the operation.
Sometimes a business lawyer will be needed temporarily to offer consulting or take care of one process. In other situations it’s smart to establish and maintain a relationship for periodic or regular small business legal services.
Knowing which situation merits legal advice or representation is helpful for avoiding liability and retaining peace of mind.
When Is A Small Business Attorney Required?
For businesses that are at the earliest stages, it’s necessary to decide on a business entity, more specifically whether it will be a sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), or a corporation.
Depending on the type, it is not always necessary to have a lawyer when filing as a business entity, but small business lawyers can provide guidance on which type is most appropriate based on the size and nature of the business, as well as the legal and tax requirements of each.
Business advocacy groups and state and federal associations, like the U.S. Small Business Administration, will also often offer free small business legal advice and low-cost services to help independent business owners get started.
These services can be especially helpful to business owners who want to ensure their venture complies with federal, state, and local laws.
Choosing a name for the business and avoiding issues with trademarks and other legal claims is made easier with the aid of a business lawyer, but this process can be navigated without legal representation.
However, if the business will require that a product, idea, or concept be patented, then it’s highly beneficial to hire a lawyer to take care of the patent application process, which can be time-consuming and costly if not executed correctly.
This is also the case with any special licensing and permitting. Small business attorneys can help identify what permits and licenses will be necessary based on how and where the business operates and can save time in the process of acquiring those credentials.
Developing a hiring and employee management policy that’s compliant with state and federal labor laws is also made easier with the guidance of an attorney.
Once the business is up and running, regular operations can open the door to risk or, at minimum, create extra headaches. Knowing a trustworthy and reliable provider of legal services will be highly beneficial for protecting one’s venture, its reputation, and assets.
Common Legal Services For Small Businesses
If the business will regularly require contracts, whether they are necessary for employees, clients, contractors, or other businesses, then it’s best to have a business attorney available to review all terms at a minimum.
If outstanding payments and debts need to be collected, small business lawyers can be more effective at collecting overdue payments and/or representing your business if the matter needs to be resolved in court.
Even the smallest business can be subject to lawsuits and liability claims. If this happens, having an established relationship with an attorney can save a lot of time and money compared to the cost of reacting in an emergency and hiring legal representation after the fact.
Small business owners will also want to have competent legal assistance if they need to take action in event of defamation, a dispute over the terms of a lease agreement, or violation of other rights.
If and when a small business owner decides to expand through the acquisition of another business or sell their assets or name, negotiations are best handled through a business attorney.