While most businesses hope they never have to consult a lawyer, there are times when doing so is necessary and even beneficial. It is actually recommended that most companies retain a business attorney who is familiar with their company and who can be consulted when needed. However, small businesses may not have the means to keep an attorney on retainer, so it is beneficial for you to know when you have to have one. Here are four strong signs that your small business needs an attorney.
You Are Starting a Business
It is important for entrepreneurs to consult a business attorney when they are first forming their business. Not setting up your company under the best designation can cause significant losses in taxes you shouldn’t have to pay. A business attorney knowledgeable in business formations can explain your tax obligation and help you decide whether to set up your business as a partnership, an LLC, or one of the other organizational structures. Reach out to an attorney, like those at Boynton Waldron Doleac Woodman or one near you, to understand business designations.
You Need to Register Intellectual Property
Intellectual property rights and protections are more important than most business owners realize. There are also different categories of IP, each with their own definitions and scope of protections. Depending on your business, you will need specific protections. For example, copyright protects creative works, while patents prevent others from using your inventions and novel processes without permission.
Failure to register IP with the proper body, especially patents and trademarks, can result in your company being unable to use your own design. Attorneys can help you draft non-disclosure agreements and non-compete clauses that can serve to safeguard your trade secrets.
Employee Issues Have Surfaced
Business owners hope they never have significant problems with employees. Unfortunately, it is more likely that it will happen than it won’t. Whether an employee feels they are terminated due to discrimination or that they are facing harassment at work, any legal action taken by the employee can do unmitigated damage to your company, your other employees’ morale, and your brand. Attorneys can answer your questions and, if necessary, represent your company in court. They can also help you understand special considerations you need to make when hiring freelancers or contractors.
You Are Being Sued (or Threatened with Legal Action)
This is perhaps the most obvious sign that you need to seek legal representation, but it is worth noting. Companies need legal representation in a number of cases, whether a customer slips and falls in your store, or another company is suing you for trademark infringement. A state, federal, or local agency might also have written your company up on some violation, and if you are being investigated, you will want an attorney to make sure you completely understand your rights. Even if you are just being threatened with legal action, it is wise to shop around for lawyers and get your questions answered by a professional.
If any of these signs have shown up in your business, consulting a lawyer is your best bet. Going without one can result in your company losing significant amounts of money. Get the right advice and the right protection, and your company will be in the best, possible position to overcome legal challenges.