Home » Business » Entrepreneurship

Business Wisdom for a Young Company: Get Legal Counsel

Aug 17, 2007
Every business needs the services of two very key professionals: an accountant and a lawyer. Most people have a clear understanding of why an accountant is vital: accountants provide an immediately visible service such as reviewing numbers, preparing statements, and arranging tax and payroll remittances.

But accountants aren't the only professional you should have available when you are starting or running a company. Business attorneys provide an essential service that touches on almost every part of your business, from human resources, to bylaw compliance, to incorporation documents, to dealing with lawsuits and understanding liability.

There are a couple of things to keep in mind when seeking an effective lawyer. The first is that, like many professions, law is highly specialized and highly segmented. That means there will be many lawyers who are simply ill-suited to serving your business needs.

Instead, look for a lawyer who displays a very specific set of skills or area of expertise. These should include:

Your lawyer should know contracts. Every business is different, but there are a couple of core similarities. One is that contracts are a very common, and much needed, part of doing business. When looking for a lawyer, find one who has experience with your type of business. Doing so will ensure they understand your business quickly and be able to adequately prepare the standard form contracts you require when dealing with customers, clients and suppliers. In addition, your lawyer will help you respond to contracts that you plan to enter into with others.

Your lawyer can provide valuable insight into how to approach organizing your business. You will need a lawyer who can assist in the decision-making process on whether a sole-proprietorship, a corporation or a limited liability company is the best way to arrange your business. Once that decision is made, there is the necessary paperwork to complete

Your lawyer should have a solid understanding of real estate. Commercial space leases, whether for an offices or retail stores, can be highly complex. Plus, such leases are often designed to benefit the landlord, and because they tend to be "stock form" documents, many believe they are non-negotiable. That's simply not the case. An attorney will know how to present a standard "tenant's addendum," which more closely aligns with you business needs and contains provisions that benefit you. A qualified lawyer will have these terms added to a printed form lease document.

Taxes and licenses are also highly technical and require specific knowledge. In spite of the fact that your accountant will draft and file your business tax returns, there are responsibilities which goes beyond that. A lawyer will know how to properly register your business for federal and local tax identification, and they will be aware of the tax consequences of the more basic business transactions in which your organization will engage.

Finally, your lawyer helps enforce and protect your intellectual property. Many companies, and particularly those engaged in a creative-media or design business, can make use of a lawyer to register products and services for copyright and trademark protection. However, such areas are fairly technical and often require the assistance of specialists who do focus on the area of "intellectual property". A small business lawyer will likely refer specific inquiries of that nature to others who have a strong working knowledge of intellectual property.

All things considered, in spite of the potential cost of bring a lawyer into the fold, the advantages significantly outweigh the disadvantages. Lawyers can offer valuable insight that is often designed to protect you and your company, and working with a lawyer on a regular basis means they will have a clear understanding of how your business operates, and your overall priorities. Without a doubt, virtually all companies can benefit from working closely with a lawyer in all aspects of operating the business.
About the Author
Michael Lee-Smith has been involved in start-up business ventures for almost a decade, and in that time he's learned real-world strategies for successfully planning operations for new businesses. Learn more about how you can succeed in real estate at http://www.rewardsnetwork.info/ .
Please Rate:
(Average: Not rated)
Views: 116
Print Email Report Share
Article Categories