Who is a Lawyer?
A Lawyer (also referred to as solicitor, attorney, barrister counsel or counselor) is a professional licensed to practice law.
“I don’t need a lawyer joor! I can do all things for myself and my small business. Is it not when I look for somebody’s trouble, I’ll need a lawyer?” Few weeks later, the shop next to his was rented out and name of business the same as they sell similar products.
“Why are you using my business name? You have no right to do so. I opened my shop here first. You have come to steal my customers and spoil my business. I will call a lawyer”. Fast-forward, he lost that business name notwithstanding that he started using it first. The other business owner engaged the services of a lawyer who got his business name registered and all necessary business operational licenses obtained.
The reasons for hiring a lawyer for your business may not, however, be so apparent. A good business lawyer will provide vital assistance in almost every aspect of your business, from formal business incorporation, basic regulatory compliance, copyright and trademark, taxes, partnership and all types of agreements, negotiation of lease of business space, branding, lawsuits and liability to general business advisory.
Having a good lawyer at the launch of your business provide incredible value to your business and helps to protect you from legal implications. Get in touch with a lawyer before you need one. If you’re being sued, it’s too late.
Lawyers in Business Startups
The most common reasons for needing a lawyer in a business startup are, but not limited to:
- Proposing proper incorporating structure– the first thing to do as a business owner is to decide the structure of your business. A lawyer helps in proposing the right structure of registration of your business considering its nature and objectives. Choosing between LTD, PLC, BN, LTD/GTENGO. The wrong decision can be incredibly costly to fix and the problem might not be apparent for years.
- Navigating the many forms and legal documents that are involved in incorporation– this will enable you focus on other aspects of the business so you don’t have to spend time learning the legal processes. Engaging the services of a lawyer will help save time and even cost, which may be accrued from ‘trial and error’.
- Taxes– a lawyer will help you register your business for State or Federal tax identification numbers. He will help you to understand the tax consequences and basic transactions your business will engage. This helps you understand all your rights as a person and an entrepreneur.
- Compliance license(s) where required– State and Federals laws are different and have their own procedures to follow. At incorporation, taking your business overseas, building property and paying taxes, there are certain rules and regulations you must observe. A lawyer sifts through all these laws to ensure that you’re complying adequately with each one.
- Insurance policies.
- Trademark/patent registration– if you are in media, design or other creative-type business, it is certainly a plus if your lawyer can help you register your product and services for federal trademark and copyright protection. It is important to file for a patent if you’ve developed a new product or services so as to prevent theft, enjoy sole ownership and financial benefit from such creation. The process is often expensive and time consuming if you go about it without a lawyer who is a registered agent.
- Review and negotiation of lease documents– lease documents for commercial space such as offices and retail stores are highly complex and are always drafted in the interest of the landlord. You may be tempted to think that this drafted agreement is not negotiable. Not so. The best person to review and negotiate for your interests to be covered is a lawyer.
- Business branding– most business starters have no idea of branding their businesses or who will give best branding option packages. An experience business lawyer should have a close working relationship with one or more professionals when it comes to business branding. Ask your lawyer for best options on website creation, logo designs, corporate accounts, social media handles, ID cards, branded stationaries, etc.
- Employee issues– if you intend to engage the services of an independent contractor, create an agreement that spells out all arrangements you have concurred on. Your lawyer can draft it for you or review the draft to make sure it is in your best interest. A lawyer will help facilitate hiring process and help you safely disengage employees without legal repercussions. The last thing you want in your hand is a lawsuit from an employee.
- Draft and review of contracts– when in business, you will definitely get into one or several contracts. A good lawyer will help you by ensuring you do not sign a contract that will jeopardize your business; prepare the standard form contracts you will need with customers, clients and suppliers; and help you respond to contracts that other people may require you to sign. In the case of breached contracts, a lawyer will spell out any options you have and make sure you do nothing you shouldn’t. They are experts in rooting problem clauses thus helping you escape lawsuits.
- Merger and acquisition– thinking about buying out a competitor? Being acquired by a bigger company? Joining forces with another business? Don’t make the mistake of not engaging the services of a lawyer to advice, negotiate and guide you through the process.
- Loans and other financial grants.
- General business advisory– even the most prepared and well-meaning business owner can run into problems related to disability and sick leave, discrimination, sexual harassment, workplace safety, amongst others. A lawyer educates clients on applicable laws and best practices, and represents them when an issue arises.
To prevent unnecessary attorney costs at the inception of your business as well as tremendous costs for penalties or after a lawsuit has been filed; you might consider a retainer arrangement with a lawyer. This way, you don’t have to pay for each and every legal issue that comes up in your business. Rather, an agreed fee is paid for specific legal services rendered within a period of time. You may not know you need legal help until it’s too late, but your Lawyers will help you stay in compliance with the law and spot developing legal issues early.
Get ahead of the curve by engaging the services of a Lawyer at the inception of your business. Your emphasis should be placed on preventing issues in the first place. By the time you and your business is sued, the preventable damage has been done and the only question that remains is how much you’ll be paying in legal fees, court penalties and damages.
By; Nneamaka ONYEMA
Principal Partner at LinkedLegal Attorneys (LLA)
Tel: +234 8039625141
About LinkedLegal Attorneys:
LinkedLegal Attorneys (LLA) is a premium law firm providing a comprehensive range of legal services and solutions for domestic and international clients, with strong focus on Corporate/Commercial law practice, intellectual property (IP), not-for-profit education, pro-bono legal services to victims of sexual-based violence, and legislative advocacy-related matters.
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