Whether it’s Google or the corner grocery store, every business needs a lawyer.
“Wait a second,” you might be saying. “I can see why Google would need a lawyer. Facebook, sure. They’re always in the news. But we’re a two-person operation. Most of our customers can walk here. Why do we need a lawyer?”
And yes, chances are you won’t have to deal with the types of legal issues the Mark Zuckerbergs and Elon Musks of the world have to face. But your company could still benefit from having solid legal advice. Here are some scenarios where a small business lawyer might come in handy.
1. You’re not sure how to structure your business
This is one of the first big decisions you’ll have to make when you launch. Will you be a partnership, an LLC, a corporation? The structure you choose can govern the future of your business. It affects your tax obligations, your exposure to personal liability and the way you can – legally – obtain funding.
An experienced business attorney can help you determine the best structure for your business and create and file the necessary paperwork.
2. You need to negotiate a contract
Contracts are a part of life in the world of business, and a small business lawyer can help you make sure the contracts you sign don’t get you into trouble. And if the other party has breached the contract, your attorney can guide you through your options. For instance, you might be tempted to withhold payments following a breach, while your attorney recognizes that the contract won’t allow it.
3. You’re not sure how to pay independent contractors
Specific laws govern how independent contractors get paid and an attorney can keep you out of trouble with the IRS by drafting the proper employment agreements.
4. You need to fire someone
Talk to an attorney before you hire or fire an employee to make sure you aren’t violating anti-discrimination laws. A lawyer can advise you on the questions you can’t ask during a job interview and can protect your interests if you’re faced with an employee lawsuit.
5. You’re dealing with an environmental issue
Environmental issues can stem from things like waste disposal, manufacturing and emissions. They don’t even have to involve your company directly: you might have bought a piece of property only to learn the previous owner buried toxic materials underground. In any event, you’ll need a small business lawyer to offer guidance.
6. You’re dealing with a government complaint
Whether it’s your local planning commission or the IRS, it’s never a good idea to go up against the government on your own. It might be a complaint a former worker made to the state department of labor, or the Internal Revenue Service questioning the numbers on your tax return. Either way, these issues are typically too big and complicated to handle without a business lawyer.
7. You’ve decided to sell your company…or buy a new one
You’ve had a good run, but now you’ve decided to retire. Another company wants to buy your business and their offer is too good to be true. A small business lawyer will help you scrutinize the buyers and make sure you get the most value for the sale.
If you’re on the other end of this sort of transaction and about to buy a new business, your lawyer can help you value that company, craft purchase and acquisition agreements and deal with other paperwork to make sure the sale goes smoothly.
We think of it like this: having a small business lawyer is like having an extra key for your front door: it just makes sense.
Whether it’s dealing with litigation, drafting contracts or helping you expand, the business lawyers at Penglase & Benson can focus on your case, so you can focus on your company. Contact us today to learn how we can help you succeed.