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Legal attorney for a small business, a necessary requirement or not?

Whenever we come across articles or blogs regarding small businesses, startups or strategies to undertake when establishing our own business, we rarely come across the necessity of a business lawyer for such businesses. This aspect often comes as a worry for entrepreneurs, whether they need a business lawyer or not. We can establish that small businesses do not make profits in their initial cycle, add to this the perception which people have that attorneys charge high rates. All this adds up to the fact the small businesses do not have much capital, which they can pay to their lawyers. As a result of this, such startups invest their capital in aspects such as technology or marketing and only hire an attorney when confronted with a serious legal problem.

Having a legal help is obviously going to cost us money, but more than often it helps our business in the long run. While it is true that we do not require an attorney for every step of running our business, we cannot entirely ignore its essence in our small business. Below we have presented some pointers which can help us in understanding under which legal issues we can hire a minimal attorney assistance and under what circumstance our business will require a business lawyer.

Certain matters involving our small business are fairly straightforward and not unduly difficult to learn. We need to identify such activities, and instead of hiring an attorney to perform those tasks for us, we can perform them ourselves, saving ourselves a load of money.

For instance, while writing a business plan, we do not require an attorney’s assistance. There are certain strategies which we can follow ourselves, the first being considering the audience we want to reach. If we are introducing a new product to the market, our plan will focus on providing product information, target market information and more. While planning the same, we will also need to keep in mind, our potential business partners. These are the parties which will want to know if our business or the product we are launching is a good fit for them and if our venture is likely to be profitable or not. Along with this, potential investors and lenders are one of the most crucial audience for our business plan. Therefore, while making our plan, we need to keep them at forefront.

Additionally, activities such as picking a name for our business, reserving domain name for our website do not require an attorney. We can do the same by researching online about the previously trademarked business names. Even when a company is deciding its legal structure, i.e., legal partnership agreement, LLC, shareholder’s agreement or more, they can perform the same themselves. Every company, upon its incorporation, needs to attain licenses, permits, Employer Identification Number (EIN- for tax purposes) and more, the same can be attained following simple procedures, a guide of which is present of websites and do not require an outside assistance.

While the above were just a few examples of tasks which a small business can perform themselves instead of hiring an attorney to perform these tasks for us, it is important to note that if our business is well-funded and if we believe that we need the assistance of an attorney, we can always retain a lawyer to help us with the tasks listed above.

Moving on, there are times when a business faces issues that are too complex, time consuming or fraught with liability issues. At that point, it is wise to consult and hire an experienced business lawyer. For instance, incidents where employees of the company have or are suing the company on the grounds of discrimination, hiring, firing or hostile work environment. Cases where local or government entities file a complaint against our company for violation of any laws, such are to be dealt under the guidance of an experienced business lawyer. Over the past few years, we have realised how ESG has been playing an important role in every sector. In accordance with that, if any environmental issue arises and our business is involved in it, even if our business was the not the prime cause of that problem, there may be cases where we get penalised. Apart from this, even while negotiating for the sale of our company or for the acquisition of another company or its assets, we will require a business attorney.

As mentioned above, we have now understood the importance which a business lawyer plays for a small sized firm. It is important that we identify such cases in our firm and retain an attorney when required, however, it is also much important to lay emphasis on the fact that such occurrences should be prevented in the first place. This implies, that even though we do not hire an attorney, consulting with one wouldn’t hurt. It will help us in answering any queries we have and save our business from getting sued, or from any preventable damage. For instance, instead of encountering a lawsuit which is filed by our employee claiming gender discrimination, we could have previously done our own research on anti-discrimination laws, or could have consulted an attorney beforehand.




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