Let’s be candid: Hiring a lawyer likely doesn’t rank high on the list of priorities for most entrepreneurs and business owners. The day-to-day demands of running a business take up most of your time and attention, leaving room for little else. But the reality is that every business needs the assistance of legal counsel at some point. Often, that time arrives sooner than you expect, or realize.
These days, the proliferation of online legal service providers and online government interfaces have empowered business owners and executives to take many legal matters into their own hands. However, forging ahead on your own often yields lackluster results, and making mistakes early on can generate cascading delays and other headaches. For the health and success of your business, it’s essential to get legal matters right the first time—and to do that, there’s no substitute for genuine legal expertise.
There are many situations where a dedicated, experienced legal team can provide invaluable guidance. In the early stages of your business, for example, legal counsel can assist with drafting by-laws, operating agreements, and partnership documents to lay a strong foundation for future growth and success. For more established businesses and entrepreneurs, legal expertise is essential for protecting intellectual property, drafting and negotiating contracts, and navigating the ever-changing world of online privacy laws.
The topics below highlight some of the main areas where legal counsel can provide a leg up for your business. By building a relationship with a legal team now, you’ll be better prepared for whatever comes your way.
From choosing the ideal corporate structure for your end goals to drafting clear and comprehensive partnership and operating agreements, enlisting professional legal help will give your business a solid foundation. Getting the basics right increases your chances of accomplishing your objectives and ensures that potential negative consequences can be limited and planned for.
Effective strategies and documentation are essential for ensuring compliance and managing expectations, whether you are bootstrapping, borrowing from friends and family, selling stock, or seeking a loan from a bank.
The way you seek and obtain funds can have serious implications for regulatory compliance and personal liability. No matter what route you choose, working with legal counsel will help you better negotiate with loan officers and investors, understand the obligations you’re taking on, and stay within the bounds of the complex array of applicable regulations.
Hiring employees is a significant step for any business. Aside from the obvious questions of responsibility and delegation, hiring presents other challenges, such as soliciting and screening candidates, onboarding, and protection and ownership of intellectual property. From basic considerations like drafting employee agreements to more advanced matters like stock option grants, legal counsel can help you address challenges and stay in compliance with the patchwork of local, state, and federal laws.
Your business is only as strong as your ideas, which means you need to own them and be able to defend them against infringing use. Failing to protect the fruits of your labor may not only result in losing your IP, but could also scare off potential lenders and investors. They might feel that your assets are less than what you claim, for example, or they may perceive you as being careless about protecting the business’s interests. Dedicated legal counsel can help guide you through the process of drafting necessary contracts, filing copyrights, trademarks, and patents to secure your ideas—and your business’s future.
Whether you are leasing space, hiring a web developer, or outsourcing some aspect of your business, the contractual relationships and terms you enter into are make-or-break aspects of your business plan. Legal counsel provides effective and informed negotiation coupled with tailored drafting advice and review to ensure a beneficial agreement and lay out clear rules of the road. That way, all parties involved know what to expect in terms of responsibilities, rights upon default, the ability to contract with others, and more.