Many businesses run into legal situations that cost them a great fortune.
This is usually due to the lack of proper legal advice or sometimes the complete absence of it.
Sometimes you save more by spending a little more. Business owners and Entrepreneurs are often more concerned about the returns they make and they just ignore the legal aspect of their businesses.
Hiring a business lawyer is quite easy, and of course, very necessary. Just hang on till the end, we will work you through the process.
When should I hire a Business Lawyer?
Business Lawyers are important at the very beginning of your business. You would need their services in some very fundamental structure of your company.
Company Registration, Trademark Registration, Business Name Registration, TIN/VAT Registration are some of the processes that would require the service of a Business Lawyer at the very beginning of your business.
The Business Lawyer will also advise on whether to ‘register the business name’ or ‘incorporate the business’. There is a wide difference between the two, this is one of the reasons you need the business lawyer at the very beginning of your company.
What do I need a Business Lawyer for?
The first step in hiring a business lawyer is to identify exactly what you need his/her service for. This will guide you in selecting the best lawyer for your business that you can afford.
Business Registration/Incorporation: you would need the assistance of a lawyer in properly naming your business. He/she would help advise you on whether the business should be registered as a Sole Proprietorship, Limited Liability Company, Corporation, Limited Liability, Limited Partnership, Joint Venture or any other the lawyer deems fit.
The lawyer will also guide you in the registration based on the constitution of your country. Trust me, this will save you a lot of stress in the future.
Trademark Registration: this is another vital aspect of business establishment that many entrepreneurs do not pay attention to. This has caused a lot of issues in times past, for example, a wrestling company Titan Sports changed its name to WWF – World Wrestling Federation, the World Wildlife Fund, sued them and the case lasted for 13 years.
After a while, the wrestling company lost the case and they had to change to – World Wrestling Entertainment, WWE. They were forced to rebrand and this cost millions of dollars. In another example, a South Korean fried chicken restaurant lost 14.5 million in a trademark battle with Louis Vuitton.
The restaurant was named Louis Vuiton Dak, it eventually changed to LOUISVUI TONDAK after paying the fine for non-compliance. You can totally avoid this.
Contracts: at one time or the other you would require some B2B (business to business) services, and you must have a proper contract document in order to avoid legal problems.
Do not try to use online templates, you must employ a business lawyer that understands your business properly and he/she would draft your contract documents in alignment with your business goals.
Taxation: corporate tax can be sometimes complicated. Lawyers are needed to define what your taxable income would be as a business. Some countries define taxable income for a corporation as all gross income while this is not so in other countries the tax is paid from the net income.
There are also exemptions for Non –Governmental Organizations, this will also be affected by how your business was registered.
Employees/Daily Operation: depending on the structure of your business, you might need to employ a large number of people. Needless to say, managing people of different ages, ideologies, and background is a big task.
Some of these employees can pose a risk to the organization in cases of theft, armed robbery, divulgence of sensitive information, etc. Riskier is the health of your employees in relation to your organization.
The stance of the organization has to be stated concerning the responsibility it holds over the lives of the employees, what happens in case of death, and compensations. These are activities you can’t carry out all on your own. You just need a business lawyer for them.
Search for a Lawyer
After identifying the exact need your business has for a business lawyer, the next thing is to look for a lawyer. Be mindful that there are different kinds of lawyers.
A corporate lawyer who also has some experience with transactional law would be good for your business. The lawyer might not have much experience with litigation that is not so important. There are some important factors you should check for in your business lawyer.
Factors to consider:
Does the lawyer have a good profile? You should be able to find some information about him/her. Look up their names on search engines and gather some information about them, this will guide you in ascertaining their proficiency and sincerity. A proficient and smart lawyer should have a good online presence.
Is the Lawyer available? Do not hire a lawyer that will not have sufficient time for you. Your business lawyer should not treat you as a ‘side-gig’, he/she should dedicate specific work hours to your business.
Does the lawyer have a good communication skill? Your lawyer should be able to understand you and your business objective clearly. He/she should also possess an ability to project your business in clear terms. The business lawyers should always be ready to listen to you, always keeping a clear and constant communication line.
Can you fund the service of the lawyer continuously? You should hire a business lawyer that you can easily pay for his/her services. The lawyer should be satisfied with your monetary reward and not render services to you grudgingly.
So, where exactly can you find a lawyer? Finding a lawyer is quite easy regardless of what country you live in. We will discuss some of the easiest ways below.
- Lawyers’ Websites: there are aggregator websites that feature some verified lawyers and their contact details. Examples are legalmatch.com, findlaw.com, rocketlawyer.com, avvo.com amongst others.
- Job Website: you could put a vacancy on a job portal for different lawyers to apply. This can fetch you tonnes of lawyers to choose from.
- Referrals: Speak with your family and friends about the kind of business lawyer you need, you might just have a perfect one right under your nose.
When you have enough suggestions, compare their distinctive advantages and how they will affect your business positively. The next thing to do is to schedule a meeting with the lawyer of your choice. Make sure you have all your legal needs clearly stated before meeting with the lawyer.
First Meeting: Your meeting with the lawyer can be either physical or online. You can have a skype meeting or even speak over the phone. Be careful not to commit yourself to the service of the lawyer during this meeting.
Make it clear that the meeting is just an introductory one and does not guarantee you procuring the service of the lawyer. Also, refrain from giving out sensitive information about your business at the first meeting, but present clearly, everything you would require the lawyer to do.
After the meeting, request that the lawyer sends you a mail including the services he would render to you and the charges.
Evaluation: After your first meeting with the lawyer, you should know if he/she is capable of protecting your business legally. You should also receive his/her service charge and check if you can foot is based on your business net income.
You should not hire a business lawyer that you cannot retain for a long time. If you are not sure about the lawyer you met with, you can hold meetings with one or two other lawyers. You can also discuss with other business partners about your decision.
Second Meeting: now you have selected a business lawyer, insist that the lawyer presents a Terms of Engagement. It is a document that explains how the lawyer works for your company and the responsibility you have towards him/her.
What to do after you hire a Business Lawyer
- Ensure that all your employees are aware that you have a business lawyer
- Insist that all documents/correspondence that involves interaction with other businesses are vetted by the lawyer
- The business lawyer should have knowledge of the company’s assets.
- Any information material that represents your company should be under the purview of your business lawyer
- The business lawyer should check sensitive posts before they go out on your Social Media handles
Hiring a business lawyer is very fundamental to the growth and success of a business. If you hope to build a world-class business and not fall into some legal ditches, you might just follow these steps now – you would be glad you did.