Many business owners do not realize how many legal matters they will have to face until they actually go through the process of opening a new business. You may be wondering, “Do I Need an Attorney for my Small Business?’ While it is possible to open a business without an attorney, it can make things much more complicated. There is a lot of paperwork that will need to be properly filed in order to be in compliance with state and federal laws. If you fail to complete this paperwork properly, you may deal with fines and other costly expenses.
Listed below are examples of when you need a business attorney on your side.
1. Changing Your Business Structure or Ownership
One of the first challenges you face when setting up a new business is choosing a structure. That choice will impact your future company’s tax liability, stock options, and other matters. But when you first start out, you can probably handle the decision on your own. If you’re the only owner, you have the option to change your structure down the road if you need. Just remember to keep your business and personal finances separate!
However, if you do decide to change that structure, it’s time to talk to your business attorney. They’ll walk you through the pros and cons of the change and guide you through the process of getting it done. This is especially important if you’re bringing in new investors or partners. Anyone with ownership in the business has legal rights and you’ll need to create certain documents (like a shareholder’s agreement) to set out how the business relationships are going to work, define each party’s role, and outline a structure for dispute resolution, among other issues.
2. Creating Contracts
For most non-lawyers, contracts are a maze of legalese and confusing jargon. As you start your business, it’s worthwhile to sit down with your business attorney to draw up standard contracts that you’ll use when you work with suppliers, clients, and other relevant parties. They’ll be able to spot issues that you may not have considered and they’ll also be able to make the contract legally clear and enforceable.
For a lot of day-to-day, simple transactions, a standard contract will do the trick. If you’re working on a bigger deal or a long-term arrangement (like a lease or a loan, for example), it’s time to go see your attorney again to work out the details of that specific contract. There may be serious tax implications or terms that give the other party a lot of power or leeway and your attorney can help you spot those and negotiate the terms.
Signing a contract that you don’t understand or that doesn’t cover important issues is a recipe for expensive and time-consuming litigation down the road, so invest in the legal advice upfront to help avoid it.
3. Issues With Employees
Employment law is a specialized and complex field. The rules for overtime pay, family leave, workers’ comp, and various employees’ rights change periodically and it can be hard to stay up to date on all the rules and regs. Your legal obligations to your employees may also change depending on the size and structure of your business. As you start to layout your employment policies, take an hour to sit down with your business attorney to make sure you understand your legal rights and obligations and those of your employees.
If you’re considering an unusual employment situation (like paying employees in stock options, for example), this is even more important. Again, there may be tax implications and you and your employees will have different legal rights and obligations. You want to address all those issues out front.
And of course, you’ll need to work with your business attorney if an employee brings a complaint. Harassment and discrimination obviously require the assistance of an attorney, but consider giving your lawyer a call even for smaller issues. Saying the wrong thing about something as simple as a dispute over pay could open you up to liability. Hear your employee’s complaint and then talk to your lawyer before you do anything about it.
4. If You Get Sued
Unfortunately, the nature of doing business may mean that your business may face a lawsuit. It’s fairly common for a lawsuit to be sent directly to your attorney anyway. They’ll help you understand the basis for the dispute and the options for dealing with it. For example, contract disputes can often be handled through mediation or arbitration rather than an expensive lawsuit.
Top Business Lawyers in Houston Area
Attorney Fuller is a seasoned attorney with nearly three decades of experience representing a wide range of clients. This includes individuals who have suffered an injury due to another’s actions, individuals facing criminal charges, those who have been arrested for DWI, individuals who have found themselves in a civil litigation dispute, and those looking for legal guidance in business.
After filling out a client intake form, Attorney Lanease D. Fuller will take appropriate action in your case to help you get the results you are looking for. This includes but not limited to gathering evidence, going to trial, and earning a settlement that is appropriate for your specific situation. Reach out to us today to take the first step towards settling your case.
LANEASE D. FULLER LAW
4615 S. Frwy St. 820
Houston, TX 77051
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