By Walter Moore
There are several business-related scenarios in which it could be very beneficial to have an attorney at hand, be it do draw up or verify contracts, help in the incorporation process and represent your interests in litigation or negotiation. That said lawyers aren’t strictly necessary in all situations, which means there are a number of things you can do on your own and save tons of money in legal fees on.
Times When a Lawyer Is Crucial
A number of complicated issues arise at several points in your business journey, and it is best if you have an attorney working with you to guide you through them all.
Forming A Corporation: Creating legal business entities like partnerships and LLCs is pretty straightforward and can be done without a lawyer, but upscaling into a corporation with a board and shareholders is very complex and has several kinks which need to be worked out by someone who knows the field. You can file articles of incorporation by yourself but should get the legal and tax requirements and other administrative duties handled by your business attorney.
Filing Patents: Patents are extremely time-consuming and rather expensive. It could take years to get a patent processed and approved, which is why terms like “patent pending” are so common in the market. The first thing you need to do is to figure out if patenting your product is worth it and gives you a large edge in the industry like it would for biotech or pharma industries. It is vital that you consult a professional patent attorney who can evaluate where you stand and advise you regarding rights, procedure, and other related matters.
Litigation: Litigation is a tricky business and could be long-drawn and damaging to the business in terms of revenue as well as reputation. It involves lawsuits by former or current customers and employees, lawsuits regarding harassment and discrimination, environmental lawsuits, legal violation investigations by government agencies, audits and so on. You are in no way equipped to deal with this yourself and absolutely must contact a reputed corporate law firm for the same.
Transfer of Ownership, Buying or Selling: It is important that you have a lawyer overlook the entire transfer in terms of formalities, contracts, sales and lease agreements and so on.
Issues That You Can Manage By Yourself
There are several items you could handle on your own or with minimal assistance online or from government agencies. It is still a good idea to have an initial consultation with your attorney to understand the complexity of the issue.
Naming the Business, Trademark Claims: When it comes to business names, you can’t exactly pick a name and be done with it. If you choose a name different from yours, you will have to file an entry for “Doing Business As”. You would also need to perform WHOIS lookups to see if the URL you want is available. “The US Patent and Trademark Office” has a handy search tool to look up trademarks, and you can claim trademarks online by yourself.
Legal Structure: It is wise to consult your lawyer about the various structures and their impact on your business, but you could easily enter LLCs or partnership agreements by yourself or use online brokers too.
Paperwork for Starting the Business: The majority of legal steps in the process of getting the business started can be managed without a lawyer around. Some of these are applying for permits and licenses, registering for taxes, applying for EIN (Employer Identification Number) and so on.
Non-Disclosure Agreements and Contracts: Vendor and partner agreements, customer contracts and NDAs can be prepared without involving a lawyer but it is a good idea to get them checked to see if they are watertight.
Buy-Sell Agreements: Businesses in an LLC or a partnership with multiple owners will require buy-sell agreements to be made to protect an owner’s interests in case of transfer of ownership or death of a co-owner.
Hiring employees or contractors is also a relatively simple process that does not require any legal intervention from your attorney.
While it is a great idea to have an attorney or a firm on standby, ready and willing to cater to any need you may have, you don’t always need to shell out tons of money in legal fees. If at any point you do feel out of your depth, it is best if you consult your lawyer immediately instead of doing something you don’t completely understand which may harm your business.
Author Bio: Walter Moore is a researcher and writer. He has been writing about business and legal issues for more than 5 years and contributes to a variety of sites. During his free time he enjoys trying out new recipes and swimming. Learn more about Gehres Business Attorneys here.