Legal Advice for Small Businesses
Small businesses need to take precautions and be prepared for anything, including the potential of lawsuits or the need for legal counsel. There are two main ways to equip your business with the legal protection you need. One of those ways is to be self-taught. By reading books on business law, and keeping up-to-date with small business legal issues, you can feel “in the loop” if something occurs.
The second way to protect yourself legally, is to retain legal counsel services. Selecting a reputable law firm to represent you and to answer your legal questions is an important step for the small business owner. Let’s take a look at some important ways to identify the right law firm for you.
Selecting legal counsel
It goes without saying that when selecting legal counsel, you want to make sure the attorneys on staff for the law firm have studied and completed their degrees from accredited law schools. From there, they become licensed to practice law. A good legal counsel should not only be well-educated but also knowledgeable in business law and specific areas that affect your particular type of business.
Law students and lawyers, as smart and educated as they are, do not know everything there is to know about all aspects of the law. This is why it’s important to select a lawyer with specific skills, knowledge, and experience in areas affecting small business practices. With adequate research, good legal counsel can help you analyze and interpret legal documents and forms.
When to consult legal counsel
Before signing any contract, it’s important for the small business owner to understand exactly what sort of contractual agreement he is entering. Contracts sometimes include small print agreements that if not understood correctly can come back to haunt you when you least expect it.
If someone has threatened or filed a lawsuit against you, you definitely need to consult a lawyer about it. Lawsuits can be a real pain for small businesses. A lawyer can help you understand your rights, as well as help you put together a game plan for dealing with lawsuit, and everyone involved.
Sometimes people wait until the very last minute to seek legal help. This can be a very big mistake and one that can be more costly in the long run. The more options you have upfront, the easier it is for the lawyer to help you make the right choices. They can provide the much-needed guidance and direction you need, without guesswork. The longer you wait to seek help for a legal issue, the more likely that issue will compound and leave you fewer options.
It doesn’t cost a thing to consult a lawyer to determine just what sort of help you might need. In fact most lawyers provide free consultation the first time around, and then can be retained for a fee for future consultation and legal counsel.
A small business would do well to hire an attorney during the early stages of starting his or her business. It’s a good idea to consult with an attorney prior to purchasing or leasing a building; starting or buying a business; and if there are personal, property, or employee accidents on the job. It’s also good to have a plan in place for sexual harassment training in the workplace. If such an incident occurs among your employees, an attorney will be needed. Other issues that might come up include problems with taxes, or trying to collect on unpaid bills.
Good lawyers can be found in the Yellow Pages, online, or advertising in the various media channels. If you’re not sure where to start, consider contacting the Small Business Administration for guidance. Whatever you do, don’t neglect being prepared with good legal counsel.