Choosing a lawyer can be tricky for business owners, but they’re necessary for maintaining proper business operations. Learn about what business lawyers do for their clients.
Starting a small business seems fairly straightforward: Open up shop, advertise your products or goods and hire employees as things get busier. But the nuances of operating a business are more complicated than this, of course, and many companies find itself in need of a business lawyer from time to time.
When it comes to legal matters, it’s important for business owners to find a trustworthy business lawyer. Expert legal guidance is important for filing taxes, managing employee relations and eventually negotiating the sale of your business.
Learn about the many things a business lawyer can do for you and your business.
What Is a Business Lawyer?
Business lawyers specialize in two types of commercial law: transactional and litigation.
Business owners may need an attorney who specializes in transactional law to get advice on how to start and manage their business. Once a business is up and running, a transactional lawyer can ensure that the business is compliant with current state and federal regulations.
A business lawyer that has a specialty in litigation is your advocate in the courtroom. They’ll protect your business and financial interests in cases when you’ve been sued or if you’ve run afoul of government regulations, for example.
Business lawyers protect their clients from litigation and guide them through the complex aspects of contracts, employment law and government regulations. Plus, they’ll be at your side if things aren’t running smoothly.
Situations Where a Lawyer Is Necessary
Not every business occasion or transaction requires an attorney, but if your business has more than one employee and eventually reaches the threshold of more than 50 employees, you’ll want to consult with a lawyer who understands the relationship between businesses and workers. Other reasons to hire a business attorney might be:
- Managing profit and loss statements
- Forming an LLC
- Navigating suits from employees, either former or current, such as for sexual harassment, unfair termination, a hostile work environment or discrimination
- Adding an appreciated property to an LLC or forming a limited partnership
- Overseeing environmental issues and regulations
Paying for the assistance of a knowledgeable business attorney for these situations and others, either at their outset or before they occur, may help you save money in the long run.
How Much Does a Business Lawyer Cost?
Each attorney sets their own rates, so it’s important to ask up front about costs. However, there are a couple of differences in how business lawyers earn their fees.
Most business lawyers charge by the hour, including those that assist with transactions and provide general assistance with employee relations and investments. Rates vary according to location, size of the firm, and the overall years of experience.
Lawyers who specialize in litigation often base their fees on the outcome of the case. For example, if the business is the plaintiff in a lawsuit, the attorney may secure fees based on the award, but if the business is the defendant, the business lawyer may charge an hourly rate.
The Business Lawyer Experience
Most business owners have questions when meeting with a lawyer. This first meeting usually gives you an opportunity to provide information about your business and its history and financial status.
Then, the attorney usually asks about any pressing legal issues you face, such as litigation, or if you need to change the legal construction of your business. For example, you may have started out as a small business on paper, but as soon as you hire more employees, your business classification changes.
Your business lawyer guides you through the process of hiring employees, following employment regulations, and changing its classification from an LLC to an enterprise, for example.
When your lawyer fully understands your business, it’s their job to protect it. Your business attorney protects your business from the government and current and former employees. A business lawyer also helps you manage your company’s finances.
How to Hire a Business Lawyer
Look at reviews of lawyers online and ask for recommendations from others in your industry. Many attorneys offer free consultations, so you can contact one in your area and discuss your company’s needs for a business lawyer. You can also find recommendations from your local bar association.
When you’re hiring a business lawyer, make sure to:
- Assess your company’s legal needs. The nature of your business and its long- and short-term goals are going to determine the type of legal expertise that’s most valuable to you.
- Get a referral from a legitimate source. Consider getting recommendations from a current practicing lawyer you know or someone in your company knows.
- Do your research. Explore websites, social media accounts, including LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, and review the firm’s page on your state’s bar association website for information on what the firm is like and what it specializes in.