As businesses grow, so do the legal complications and the potential pitfalls. For all but the smallest of these businesses, the question is not if your business needs a lawyer but when you should call in their services.
Most small to medium-sized businesses don’t need to hire full-time, in-house counsel. Still, they should strongly consider forming a relationship with an outside attorney who is familiar with their operations and can provide assistance on an as-needed basis.
Here are some of the top reasons your business might need a lawyer.
When your business is just starting, or if you are considering changing the way it’s organized, there are many decisions to make that can have significant consequences in the future. From a sole proprietorship to an LLC to incorporation, all of these structures have advantages and disadvantages in terms of taxation, liability, etc. It is a good idea to sit down with a business attorney to discuss your options and get help with the paperwork.
Similarly, if you are considering forming a partnership with other individuals, it is well worth your time to meet with an attorney and work out the details of an agreement. One of the best services a lawyer can provide in this situation is to help you and your business partners plan for potential conflicts and unanticipated events. What happens when one of you wants to sell their share of the business? What happens if one of you dies? How do you proceed if you disagree on important decisions? Understanding this in advance can save you a lot of grief in the future.
Spanning a myriad of areas, from taxes to HR to data privacy, compliance issues are the bane of many business owners. They are often viewed disdainfully as bothersome government interference that pulls resources away from the business’s core mission. Whatever your feelings may be on the topic, the consequences of noncompliance can be pretty costly for a business.
An attorney who understands how your business works can, first and foremost, bring compliance issues to your attention that you may not have even been aware of yet. Later, they can help you create policies and procedures that help keep your business on regulators’ good side.
Employment law is a fraught area for businesses. Conflicts with and between employees have a high potential for future legal disputes.
For example, firing employees is an unfortunate necessity that comes with running a business, and it should always be approached as the precursor to a lawsuit. Everything you do or say may come up later, so it’s essential to go by the book. However, that can be hard if you don’t know what rules to follow. Consulting with an attorney will help you navigate this situation without exposing your company to a lawsuit.
Similarly, dealing with problems between employees can be just as important. For example, if an employee complains that they were harassed in the workplace, it’s crucial to handle this properly and not just wing it. Draft policies in advance with the help of your lawyer, and then have their phone number ready if a situation arises.
Some consider it a rite of passage or a sign of success when a business is sued for the first time. Indeed, the longer your business is around and the higher its profile, the more likely this will happen.
If you or your business receives notice that it is being sued, the next thing you should do is contact an attorney. If your business already has a lawyer, you will be in a much better position than if you shop around for one while the clock is ticking.
Southern California Business Attorneys
Your business is too important to leave anything to chance. Having an experienced attorney who can advise you when needed is critical to protecting your business and building a sustainable foundation for future success.
Our highly credentialed attorneys have been proudly serving the Southern California business community for years. With broad-ranging experience in a variety of practice areas—from commercial real estate to civil litigation—Hoffman & Forde can provide the legal expertise your business needs.