Are You a Legal Professional?

Business Lawyers and Resources

The help of a qualified business attorney can sometimes make or break your company's chances for success, even though meeting with a lawyer can seem intimidating for new entrepreneurs. Proper preparation can help ensure that you choose the right attorney, obtain a better understanding of lawyer fees and know which type of lawyer to hire. Articles in this section cover small business mediation, a summary of which documents you should show your lawyer, reasons for consulting with a tax attorney, how an attorney can help your business, and more.

Things You Can do Without a Lawyer

You don't need an attorney for every business process, and it can be very costly to rely on an attorney's services for everything. While large corporations typically have entire legal staffs working on their behalf, small businesses tend to have one or more attorneys on retainer. As an entrepreneur, you may want to learn how to handle the following, legal-related tasks yourself:

  • Choosing a name for your business and reserving a corresponding domain name
  • Creating a legal partnership, LLC, or shareholder's agreement
  • Applying for an employer identification number (EIN)
  • Submitting tax forms to the IRS
  • Drafting contracts for customers and clients
  • Applying for business permits and licenses
  • Conducting interviews and hiring employees

When Do You Need a Business Attorney?

While you don't need a lawyer for everything, certain situations absolutely benefit from the help of legal professionals. In fact, not hiring a lawyer for certain procedures can be expensive to the point of bankrupting your business. All it takes is one lawsuit or botched contract to put your business on the wrong trajectory. The truth is, you never know exactly when your small business may need an attorney. Also, it's important to keep in mind that limiting your legal exposure in the first place is much better than hiring an attorney after the fact.

So if you have questions about a particular legal issue, particularly if the stakes are high, you should consult an attorney. Attorneys who work with small businesses are often open to consultation arrangements. In such an agreement, the entrepreneur usually does the bulk of the research and then solicits the attorney for review.

Instances where it probably makes sense to hire a lawyer include the following:

  • Discrimination claims by current, former, or prospective employees
  • Complaints or investigations by federal, state, or local government officials
  • Environmental issues
  • Negotiating the sale or merger of your company

Hiring a Lawyer: Considerations

If you need an attorney, don't just randomly choose one out of the yellow pages. You'll want to make sure the lawyer you hire has the right temperament for your business, in addition to the standard criteria. It also helps to do your research into common fees and fee arrangements prior to meeting with potential counsel. Generally, you should ask attorneys the following questions in order to make an informed decision:

  • How long have you been a practicing attorney? How many small business clients have you had?
  • What types of cases and legal processes do you typically handle?
  • Who is your typical client?
  • What are your fees and billing arrangements?
  • How will you keep me updated about the status of my case?

Click on a link below to learn more about working with business attorneys.