“Okay, but do I really need a lawyer? Can't I handle this myself?”
If you break your leg, you see a surgeon. When your car breaks down, you call a body shop. If you want to build a house, you find an architect, a contractor, a roofer, plumbers, painters, electricians….
Get the picture?
Just because you've never missed an episode of Law and Order, that doesn't mean you're an attorney…
When your business is confronted with a complex legal problem, you need to hire a professional.
When Do You Need a Business Lawyer?
If you’re a freelancer, odds are you will only need to call up an attorney once or twice a year. Think back to that broken leg—if it were just a scratch, you wouldn’t need a doctor, you could make do with a Band-Aid and some Neosporin.
Similarly, there are a number of legal and quasi-legal issues that are fairly straightforward and in that case, you should trust the products and services offered by our friends to your right – RocketLawyer. They offer some really incredible tips and tools.
Here is a partial list of legal tasks that most small business owners can manage on their own, without the help of an attorney:
- Drafting a business plan and creating a legal partnership agreement, a limited liability company operating agreement, or a shareholders’ agreement
- Registering a name for your business and reserving a domain name for your website (your Secretary of State can provide you with information on current and past business names and trademarks)
- Applying for the following business documents: An Employee Identification Number (EIN), a business license, and any permits required by your city, county, or state
- Submitting forms to the IRS; however, if your business is audited, then you should probably contact a tax attorney or a registered accountant before responding to the IRS
- Creating contracts
- Hiring subcontractors and placing orders with vendors or suppliers
- Interviewing and hiring employees; all business owners who are planning to hire an employee need to familiarize themselves with federal and state anti-discrimination laws, but these laws are easy to understand and to interpret
This is by no means a complete list. As a rule, any task that sends you running for a legal dictionary is probably too complicated for a layperson. As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Especially when that pound of cure requires a retainer, and several thousand dollars in attorney's fees.
If you or your business are accused of negligence, malpractice, or a crime, then you need to call a lawyer right away. If an employee is injured on the job, or if a customer is injured by your product, then an attorney can protect you from liability and defamation.
Any legal issue that affects your equity or reputation, or any problem that could result in costly litigation, needs to evaluated by a licensed attorney.
Call a business lawyer if you have a problem related to any of the following:
- Lawsuits or legal threats from employees, customers, contractors, or vendors
- An investigation by a government agency
- Environmental issues that arise as a result of your business activities
- Negotiating for the sale of your business, or the acquisition of another company or its assets
To keep your business from incurring unnecessary costs, including the costs associated with a lawsuit, contact an attorney who offers “consultation” services. In other words, you do the legal leg work, and your attorney reviews your work or guides you towards a solution that will keep your business out of court.
Are you an attorney who specializes in small business or freelance business issues? Why not introduce yourself in a guest post on the Self-Employed blog today?