I am planning on starting a new business in the fitness industry with a partner of mine. We have a unique idea that we believe would be very lucrative in our area. Neither my partner or I have any experience in starting a new business so we are trying to play it safe to keep from getting burned in the long run. We have questions about trademarks and copyrights and questions regarding getting approved for a loan. My question to you is... Should we have a lawyer in our pocket before we materialize this idea?
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Attorney
YES. YES. YES. An experienced lawyer can keep you from learning many lessons the hard way.
Corporate / Incorporation Lawyer
I nearly every case, I would highly recommend engaging an experienced attorney to help you setup your business, particularly where there is more than one business partner. I have written a brief article, entitled "Starting a Business: Hiring an Attorney vs. Doing it Yourself or Online" that is linked below, and will give you a more in depth response to your question. Most attorneys, including myself, are more than happy to do a free consultation to give you an idea on your needs and expected costs - I suggest that you find one willing to do so, and then contact them. Best of luck with your new business!
This advice is for INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES only and should not be relied upon as legal advice. No attorney-client relationship shall be formed as a result of the answer above.
Real Estate Attorney
Yes, engage a firm that is experienced in small business start up and can also grow with you when you grow. The expense for start up, trademark, etc is minimal compared to the lost revenue or future attorney fees you may encounter.
I would highly recommend for you and your partner to hire an attorney. You will need to (i) choose an entity and draft all the organizational documents (not just the document that gets filed with the Secretary of State), (ii) review the lease, and (iii) review and understand the loan documents and application process, especially if you are obtaining an SBA Loan. An attorney can also guide you through questions about distributions, capital contributions, successions plans, and management and decision-making authority. Plus, an attorney can advise you on where to save a little money or delay spending it.
The above statements are provided as general information and not intended as legal advice. Each matter has its own set of unique circumstances that cannot be adequately addressed without consultation. You are strongly advised to hire an attorney licensed to practice law in your state to represent you.
Intellectual Property Law Attorney
As a lawyer, my knee jerk reaction is YES, you need a lawyer. Much of my practice in litigation risk management is helping clients undo problems they created by going it on their own. But, rather than tell you what all of the others mention (which I agree with) is to ask you this: how important is this business to your livelihood, your family's livelihood, happiness, etc. If this business is important, which I'm betting it is, you shouldn't cut costs on laying the proper foundation. Cheaper office supplies, greater capital contributions, and settling for less attractive rental space might be far better than losing your IP rights or doing something that could cause you to incur unnecessary problems.
Plus, being in Aubrey, you have access to all of the lawyers in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex--a robust and competitive legal market. You'll be able to find someone you trust at a good price.
Although it is self serving to answer "Yes", that truly would be the wisest decision on your part. Preventative maintenance is always better. Starting a new business with the assistance of an attorney will in theory allow you to brainstorm with a business professional that can guide you in many aspects of the law, whether it be the proper and appropriate business entity that would best suit you, preparing appropriate contracts in your industry, or simply providing you with sound advice to protect your intellectual property (through trademark or copyright).