When Do You Need a Business Attorney?
Unless you run a large company with legal exposure on several fronts, there's a good chance you won't need a team of business lawyers on retainer waiting to assist you. That doesn't mean, however, that there won't be times when the opinion of a professional will be necessary. Let's take a look at four situations where business lawyers can help clients out.
One of the simplest questions people often have for their attorneys is exactly what type of business they should set up. Partnerships and LLCs are among the most common, but you may wonder whether a full-on corporation or an S corporation might be worth the effort. Each arrangement has an array of regulatory and tax concerns attached to it, and it's wise to have someone explain the pros and cons of each one.
If you're going to be doing a lot of business where you have clients or customers sign agreements, it is wise to pay a lawyer to go through the wording and identify any potential problems. You'll want to hear that a particular clause isn't enforceable long before you put a proposed agreement out there. Likewise, you may also have customers who want agreements to be modified, and it's a smart idea to ask your lawyer to review any modifications before you sign off on them.
Trademarks, Service Marks, Copyrights, and Patents
Lawyers often see these as more specialized practices, so it's worth asking an attorney whether they deal in this field before you get too involved. Over the life of a business, you may put a range of identifying materials or pieces of intellectual property into circulation. It's a good idea to find out that a business name, logo, slogan, or other mark is available and enforceable before you start putting your hard-earned money into it. The same goes for any artwork, inventions, computer code, or other defensible items your business might produce.
If a business lasts long enough, eventually you, another business, a supplier or a customer are likely going to end up feeling like you were stiffed on a deal. Regardless of what angle you come at a dispute from, you should take the threat of litigation seriously. Before you get too upset about something, tell a lawyer the details and find out what your options might be. You also can tell an upset party, "Talk to my attorney."