If you run a small business, you may not think that you need a lawyer. If you’re creating a contract for a job, for example, how hard is it for you to write down what you’ll do, when you’ll do it by, how much you’ll be paid, and then have both parties sign it? And beyond the contractual, what do small businesses need lawyers for, anyway? When you’re at the outset of developing a business, you probably can’t come up with much else.
The reality, however, is that without the right language, that contract may not hold up in court, and a certain level of informality can lead clients to disregard your business, making them feel like they can default on payments without consequences.
Without a lawyer, you might file the wrong professional paperwork or make an unwise real estate transaction. There are numerous reasons you might need a lawyer, but the bottom line is that you need one because your success as a business professional depends on it.
When you found a business, one of the first decisions you need to make is how you’ll organize this company. There is no one size fits all kind of company filing, and whether you should be a limited liability company (LLC) of a corporation, for example, depends on a number of factors. A lawyer can help you choose a business structure and file the appropriate paperwork. Choosing the appropriate structure early on can save you money and prevent legal repercussions (and costs) down the road.
Avoid Contract Concerns
Having a clear – but legally undefeatable – contract is one of the most valuable things for a business professional. In it, you’ll want to outline everything from the specifics of the job to payment forms, down payments, and repercussions for non-payment to deadlines and copyright issues. Your contract needs to be thorough because it will form the foundation of any court case if things go awry.
What’s more, though, a good contract can help keep things from going wrong in the first place. When you hand over this legal document and it’s clear that it was written by a lawyer and not just drawn up by you, clients know there will be consequences if they don’t pay.
In fact, those consequences will be in writing, describing how long you’ll wait to follow up, how many times you’re willing to invoice, and when you’ll go to court. A lawyer can help you lay out a timeline that makes sense and prevents you from relying on invoice factoring services.
Preempt Legal Action
Overall, in the world of business, a lawyer’s goal is to avoid legal action, not to initiate it, and many don’t even specialize in courtroom work. Rather, because many business lawyers are consultants called on by multiple industries, they tend to specialize in avoiding legal action. They want to help you make smart decisions from the get-go, whether that means aiding your business with patents and real estate acquisitions or collaborating with HR on talent management issues. They want to smooth the way for you.
With this in mind, when you hire, look for a lawyer who is flexible and has worked in many areas. They might signal this through the variety of experiences on their resume, through their profile with a consulting business, or simply because they’ve partnered with many other businesses in the past – in fact, that’s a good way to assess whether or not they’ve proved their mettle outside the courtroom.
The reality of running a business is that if you wait until you’re caught up in a lawsuit to look for a lawyer, you’ve waited far too long. What you’ll spend to get yourself out of this kind of trouble will be many times more than you would have to keep your business on the right side of things in the first place.
Yes, some legal issues are unavoidable – there will always be a litigious client out there – but if you hire a lawyer before you open shop, you’ll spend far less time arguing with clients and far more building relationships and turning a profit.