When Do I Need a Business Lawyer for My Small Business?

Hiring a business lawyer may be the least of worries for entrepreneurs starting or running small businesses, but, at some point, seeking legal advice and representation is inevitable.

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Business lawyer

A business lawyer can help you with various legal issues, from choosing the best business structure for your company to drawing up contracts and protecting your intellectual property.

In fact, hiring a business lawyer is a cost of doing business that saves you a lot of money in the long run. Read on to learn more about hiring a business lawyer and when you should do it.

Which Issues Can You Handle on Your Own?

Some business issues are relatively easy to handle on your own, without needing a lawyer.

For example, if you’re starting a sole proprietorship or partnership, you probably don’t need to hire a lawyer. The same goes for filing your annual report and business taxes.

Since there are many costs associated with running a business, you can save yourself a lot of money by performing the following tasks on your own:

  • Writing a business plan
  • Researching and reserving a name for your business
  • Securing a domain name for your business website
  • Obtaining a business license or permit
  • Opening a business bank account
  • Creating contracts with customers and vendors (as long as you use pre-written templates or have a basic understanding of contract law)
  • Interviewing and hiring employees
  • Hiring independent contractors and working with vendors
  • Submitting necessary tax forms

Remember that this is not an exhaustive list of the things you can handle on your own. If you’re uncertain about whether or not you need a lawyer for a particular issue, err on the side of caution and consult with one.

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It’s better to spend a few hundred dollars on legal advice than to make a costly mistake that could jeopardize the future of your business.

When Should You Hire a Business Lawyer?

While there are some business issues you can handle on your own, there are other times when it’s imperative that you seek legal counsel from a business lawyer. For example, you should hire a lawyer when:

  • You’re starting a business with multiple partners
  • You’re forming a corporation or LLC
  • You plan on raising money for your business through investors or venture capitalists
  • You need help drawing up contracts
  • You’re involved in a lawsuit or dispute
  • You’re selling or merging your business
  • You’re creating a new product or service

If any of these situations apply to you, it’s time to start looking for a qualified business lawyer.

When choosing a business lawyer, it’s essential to find someone who specializes in small businesses and who has experience with the specific type of legal issue you’re dealing with.

For example, if you’re starting an online business, you should look for a lawyer specializing in e-commerce law.

Focus on Prevention

While you certainly need to hire an attorney when you are faced with a tricky situation, your primary focus should be on preventing the occurrence of situations that might force you into hiring a business lawyer.

Prevention doesn’t necessarily involve hiring an attorney but consulting one wouldn’t hurt.

You can find a lot of good information by reading books and articles on business law and speaking with other small business owners who have been through the legal process.

In addition, you should make sure that all your contracts are in writing and that you understand them fully before signing anything.

If you ever find yourself in a legal bind, remain calm and contact a business lawyer as soon as possible.

How Much Will a Business Lawyer Cost Me?

Most business lawyers usually charge by the hour, with rates ranging from $100 to $500 per hour.

However, some lawyers may charge a flat fee for certain services, such as forming a corporation or LLC.

In addition, many business lawyers offer free initial consultations, so it’s worth your while to set up a meeting with a few different attorneys before making your final decision.

What to Expect When Working With a Business Lawyer

The first time you meet your business lawyer, they will want to know everything about your business, from your business model to your target market.

They will also want to know about your long-term goals and objectives. You must be fully prepared to answer all questions they may have.

In addition, be sure to bring along any relevant documents, such as contracts, leases, or tax returns.

After your initial meeting, your lawyer will likely do some research and get back to you with their recommendations.

If you decide to hire them, they will draft the necessary paperwork and represent you in court, if required.

While it’s impossible to predict exactly how much time and money you’ll need to spend on legal issues throughout the life of your business, being proactive and working with a qualified business lawyer can minimize the risk of costly legal problems down the road.

Summary

The legal landscape for small businesses can be confusing, but it’s essential to know when you need a business lawyer and what they can help you with.

We hope you now have a better understanding of when to hire a business lawyer and what to expect when working with one.

The best way to find a good business lawyer is to ask for referrals from other business owners you trust or contact your local Chamber of Commerce or Small Business Development Center.

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