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A business lawyer will advise you on many different aspects relating to business, such as regulation compliance, business incorporation, and legal liability. The sooner you retain a business attorney, the better. Your lawyer will make sure that you set up your business properly, create contracts for you, make sure you're hiring legal workers, file patents, buy and sell businesses, and more.
Many business owners, especially small business owners, think of contacting a lawyer or law firm only when there's an urgent problem that needs to be handled. This approach can be short-sighted. Developing a relationship with a business lawyer you trust can help prevent problems that may arise as your business grows and new legal issues arise.
You may be tempted to organize your business as a simple sole proprietorship. For some business owners, this choice may make sense. However, each situation is different, and your interests may be better served with an LLC or S-corp. If you are starting a business with another person, you should know the difference between a limited liability partnership and other legal entities. If you plan to form an incorporation in the future or stay a small LLC forever are also questions which need to be asked. A small business lawyer can advise you on the right structure for you and draft the proper paperwork.
If you organize your business as a corporation, you will need to comply with the legal requirements to keep your status, such as holding shareholder or partner meetings, recording minutes, creating bylaws, and electing officers. A lawyer can keep you stay up-to-date with these functions, fees and policy needed.
If your business is developing proprietary products or processes that need to be protected, a lawyer can help you with contracts and copyright and patent applications, such as nondisclosure agreements, that protect your intangible assets. If your company is going to be creating a lot of intellectual property which could become sued over in the future it is especially important that a lawyer look over all paperwork before it is submitted.
If you are ever the subject of a lawsuit, such as a discrimination or harassment suit from an employee, or an action by a customer,company or vendor, you should consult with an attorney immediately. If a state or federal agency, such as OSHA, investigates you, a lawyer can be your advocate and adviser since they are versed in business law. At this point privacy of information may also come into play so a lawyer should be able to walk you through a standard NDA or privacy agreement.
Many entrepreneurs are eager to start a new business, but they may not think about the possibility that a principal or major stakeholder wants to stop running the business and leave. A business attorney will help you determine the value of your business, should your plans ever change.
Experienced corporate lawyers can cost between $300 and $600 per hour, depending on a variety of factors, such as the following:
Once you've narrowed down your options to a few potential attorneys based on credentials and costs, consider asking them these questions to help you decide which lawyer to contact and ultimately hire:
Not all business owners will need an attorney when they start a business, but most will benefit from the advice and guidance of a practiced business lawyer at some point in the process. Many new business owners do not regret when they hire an attorney.
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