No matter how young your business is, you will need two professionals from the get-go: a lawyer and an accountant. You probably know why you need an accountant but the reasons for hiring an attorney are not be as obvious.
A business lawyer will provide assistance in many aspects of your business, including copyright advice, basic zoning compliance, and formal business incorporation.
Types of Attorneys
Like doctors, attorneys are starting to become more and more specialized. A lawyer who handles wills and divorce cases is probably not a good fit for your business. Therefore, you need to hire a lawyer with the following skills:
Licenses and Taxes
Although accountants will prepare and file tax returns every year, you need an attorney to register your business for state and federal tax ID numbers. This lawyer should be educated on the tax consequences of handling basic business transactions.
You need an attorney who will comprehend the basics of your business quickly and prepare the standard contracts you need with suppliers, customers, and clients. A good business lawyer should also help you understand the implications of all the contracts you’ll be making with your partners, suppliers, manufacturers, etc.
Leases belonging to commercial spaces such as retail stores and offices are complex and mostly drafted to benefit the property owner. Since they are printed documents, you might think they are non-negotiable. However, an attorney will help you to get the most out of any lease by adding provisions that benefit you.
You need an attorney who can help you to decide whether an LLC or a corporation is better for you. Be ready to provide the necessary paperwork in this case that will enable the attorney to better assess the situation.
If you are in the design or media industry, you need to hire a lawyer who can help you register your services and products for federal copyright and trademark protection. However, specialists who deal with copyright solely handle this area of law.
If your lawyer claims to specialize in small businesses, he or she should know to recommend a lawyer who specializes in intellectual property.
Your lawyer also needs to be knowledgeable on personal injury issues in case one of your employees sues you for injuries sustained while at work. For instance, if your truck driver gets into an accident due to negligence on your part, you need to hire a lawyer from a reputable law firm like Atlanta firm specializing in truck accidents and your business lawyer should be able to point you in their direction.
Questions to Ask During the Interview
Are you experienced?
Do not be afraid to ask direct questions regarding the attorney’s experience.
Do you have other clients in this industry?
Your lawyer should be familiar with your industry as well as its legal environment. Consider scanning the lawyer’s magazine rack or bookshelf for the professional literature on your line of business. Be wary of lawyers who are working for your competitors, as they might leak confidential information accidentally.
Are you well connected?
A business attorney needs to be an internist to diagnose and deal with any minor problem that comes along. If the lawyer cannot handle the issue, he or she should be able to connect you with someone who can. No single lawyer can know everything about every area of law, which makes connections important.
Are you a good teacher?
Your lawyer should take the time to educate you about the legal ins and outs of your business. If he or she does this, you will be able to spot problems well in advance and deal with them accordingly.
- How Intellectual Property Affects Your Business
- Do You Own the Copyrights of Your Website Design?
- Protect Your Business with Trademarks and Copyrights
- Importance of Contracts for Your Service Business
- Record-Keeping: How to Keep Business Records