It’s the age of the small business.
No matter what skill or specialty you have, it is more possible than ever for you to file legal paperwork and open a company that can start generating revenue. Small businesses make up the majority of companies in operation, but they tend to have uphill battles trying to compete with the larger organizations.
Having a small business lawyer can help protect your company and even those odds. There are 1.3 million lawyers in the United States today, according to the American Bar Association (ABA).
This article will teach you all about the services that a small business lawyer can provide, and how to hire the right one for your company.
What Is a Small Business Lawyer?
In simple terms, a small business lawyer is one that specifically helps companies that are categorized as small businesses. This classification boils down to the size of the company or the amount of revenue it generates.
To be considered a small business, your company typically has to either have 1,500 or fewer employees, generate $35 million or less in sales, or both. In other words, the vast majority of companies today are small businesses.
These lawyers are in tune with what these companies need and can provide specialized service that makes a difference.
Uses and Benefits of a Small Business Attorney
So, how can a small business lawyer come in handy? They handle several different tasks that help to keep small businesses afloat or prevent costly mistakes.
Consider some of the benefits and uses that these lawyers can help with:
Starting Your Business on the Right Note
When you’re launching your business, it’s the perfect time to get the help of a small business lawyer.
Failing to start your business correctly and with the best legal oversight can ruin your company’s chances before it even gets off the ground. First, the company has to file with a legal classification that is both accurate and advantageous.
There are many business classifications you can explore, such as Partnerships, Limited Liability Companies (LLC), and S-Corporations.
Understanding what constitutes each type of business helps you distinguish your company, while also understanding and handling your tax obligations. A small business lawyer will also provide an outlook for your new company so that it is built to survive its first 125 years, while handling obligations and avoiding pitfalls.
Help With Creating and Reviewing Contracts
Small businesses rely on attorneys because of their expertise in oral and written agreements.
Business lawyers are trained to understand all of the aspects of a contract, including legal grounds, offer, duration, and intention. These matters are not always cut and dry, and each state has different qualifications for contract validity.
Your small business requires an attorney when you’re drafting a new contract or if another party issues you a contract that needs reviewing. You’ll find yourself in a legal quagmire if you sign a contract with unclear language or without understanding the full extent of what you’re agreeing to.
Knowing what you’re signing can prevent breach of contract and other problems.
Representation During Litigation
Today’s society is litigious. Your company can lose everything that it built with a simple lawsuit. At the same time, many experts would agree that if you’ve never been sued, you just haven’t been in business long enough.
Addressing litigation is part of running a business, and it’s better to have quality representation by your side as you go through the process. A small business lawyer will represent your interests, offer advice and protection, and handle any communications with the other party on your behalf.
Industry and Business-Specific Legal Help
Small business attorneys also have certain legal specialties that they follow.
General legal help is helpful, but you may also need a lawyer with industry-specific experience.
Laws in any industry are constantly tweaked and up for review. A good lawyer will understand precedent and ensure that your company stays up to date with legal changes.
Every company’s needs are unique, so it’s also important to retain a lawyer that can give your business its full attention.
These attorneys are also important because they can cater their services to your business’ individual needs. Examples include a family business wanting to pass wealth down to generations with a succession plan, or a sole proprietorship wanting to switch gears and eventually hire employees.
Out of Court Settlements
You probably envision courtroom activity when you think about a high-powered lawyer. The reality is that most legal matters never see the inside of a courtroom. Small business attorneys spend much of their work weeks handling out-of-court settlements on behalf of their clients.
Trials are costly, and both parties in a lawsuit typically want things handled quickly and without the back and forth uncertainty that comes with going to court. A small business lawyer is skillful, and can protect your interests anytime you need help negotiating or settling a dispute.
They Provide Help With Employment Law
Employment law is a major sector of the legal field that you will need to get help with. Hiring new employees requires a vetting process, an offer of employment, negotiating salary and benefits, onboarding, and so many other moving parts. You will need the assistance of an attorney to oversee every aspect.
Businesses get sued by their employees as much as any other party. The reason for this is that both employees and employers have rights that they are entitled to, so this creates situations where disputes and incidents can easily happen in the workplace.
Once you start hiring employees or independent contractors, having the help of small business attorneys is a must. They can help you out with matters of workers comp, and for lawsuits related to discrimination, breach of contract, sexual harassment, and other important areas.
Assistance With Tax Law
Businesses, like individuals, are obligated to pay a certain amount of taxes each year. Discrepancies in the amount of taxes owed and paid can also create legal issues. Small business lawyers possess a deep understanding of business tax law and can make sure that you’re handling your company’s tax issues correctly.
They can also offer legal advice related to any sort of deductions, credits, or changes in tax code that may affect your company.
Employment tax is one of the biggest areas of interest that these attorneys can assist you with. Tax trouble can hamper even successful businesses, so it’s important to hire lawyers with a strong grasp on these areas of law.
Offering Support With Intellectual Property Issues
Some of the most dominant and successful business empires were built on the back of a good idea. Protecting your intellectual property is one of the most important aspects of law you need to take care of.
This is particularly important today, since the world is increasingly digital and touchless, and content drives attention and revenue. A small business lawyer will let you know what sorts of intellectual property you can copyright or trademark, how to do so, and what you should know about protecting these interests over the years.
Failing to protect your intellectual property can cause you to lose out on countless dollars that can be a difference maker for your business.
Lawyers Can Oversee Mergers and Acquisitions
You can’t turn on CNBC or open the Forbes app without learning about the latest mergers and acquisitions. It’s a natural part of the business life cycle and a viable exit strategy for companies of all sizes.
Small businesses are particularly volatile, which is why they merge or get bought out all the time. It’s an area of law that you won’t want to engage in without the expert help of a lawyer. They will make sure that agreements are fair, transparent, completely understood, and ironclad.
They’re Available for Questions and Legal Advice
One of the most practical uses of a small business attorney is just having someone to get advice from. This is why small businesses often keep attorneys on retainer. With a retainer agreement, you’re not charged by the hour and can have free flowing conversations with your lawyer that can save you a lot of time and trouble in the long run.
Lawyers can address any concerns you have and let you know your legal rights. You’re probably overlooking areas of law, since this is such a detailed area of practice, It’s easy to make mistakes unless you’re formally trained with years of experience. Good small business attorneys can handle these matters for you so you can use your talents where they are best served.
Attorneys Are Valuable at Scaling Your Company
The journey of a small business has peaks and valleys, but growth is always the main goal. Knowing how and when to grow often comes after having the right legal advice.
You can go over your timetable and objectives with your lawyer, who can then advise you on the most skillful way to scale your company. The bigger you get, the more your company is susceptible to liabilities and legal details that you previously didn’t have to worry about. Your lawyer will guide you through these details and let you know what protections and strategies are best.
They can also help you find useful business investments that can build your company’s value and net worth.
Legal Professionals Can Oversee Building Projects
If you operate a small business long enough, you’re generally going to deal with real estate. Whether you’re signing a lease on an office, purchasing land, buying or selling an existing building, or taking on a new construction project from scratch, you always must keep an eye on the legal landscape.
Business lawyers will make sure you have a set of eyes on any real estate agreements, understand zoning and licensing, and get help with putting out bids or negotiating with other parties. They’ll also help you stay on top of codes and safety measures so you’re not unexpectedly hit with violations.
How to Hire a Small Business Attorney
Since you now understand why hiring a small business lawyer can be valuable, do everything in your power to hire a quality attorney that you can work with.
Start with recommendations.
Ask business contacts if they have a lawyer that they’ve worked with, and find out that lawyer’s strengths and weaknesses. Compile a list of the best five to six options and research as much as you can about their legal experience.
Book a consultation with the law firm so you can speak to them personally and let them know a bit about your legal needs. Find out if they work as a team, or if a specific lawyer will be assigned to take you on as a client.
Always read the client agreement and have another attorney look over it to know what you’re signing up for. Compare rates between law firms, and figure out the most practical way to use their services.
You may just need help with a specific project for starters, but that working relationship can later turn into a retainer agreement. Find the best agreement for your small business’ current needs, while keeping an eye toward the future.
Work With a Small Business Attorney
Getting the assistance of a small business lawyer will provide your company with the service that you need. It all begins with understanding their value.
If you’re ready to find answers to all of your small business law needs, we would be glad to assist you and call you our next client.
Get in touch with Smith Barid for all of your business legal needs.