It's easy for small businesses to gloss over hiring a lawyer because other matters, such as marketing and operations, seem more pressing. Many legal issues may not be of immediate concern to small business owners who easily justify holding off on paying for these services. However, there are many ways that lawyers can help small businesses.
Some of the most important matters are handled at the beginning of the business. For example, you may want to structure your business in a way that limits personal liability. Lawyers can help with the process of incorporation so that you are assured that your business starts on strong legal footing.
Even if businesses use a lawyer to help incorporate the business, they may fail to maintain this status. A lawyer can advise clients to have annual shareholder, director, or partner meetings in order to maintain this status. Likewise, certain types of businesses must record minutes and elect officers according to their state’s requirements. Failing to take these steps can have disastrous consequences for the business. If sued, the business stands to have its corporate veil pierced and exposes corporate officers to personal liability.
While many businesses start as a single-person operation, many small businesses owners quickly learn that they need some help for their business to thrive. A lawyer can assist their clients by helping to draft employment agreements, including non-disclosure agreements, employment contracts for a specific duration and non-compete agreements. The last group mentioned often requires very specific catering to detail. Every state has specific rules regarding the duration of a non-compete agreement, the geographical proximity of such a contract, and the scope of the agreement.
As the business continues to grow and become more successful, it will take in new clientele. To protect the business, a lawyer may draft specific agreements between the business and the client. By having the terms written upfront, disagreements and misunderstandings can potentially be avoided.
When customers stop paying their bills, small businesses and their cash flow system can become crippled. A lawyer can help in collecting past-due accounts.
Even if a small business owner determines that going to small claims court is faster and cheaper, a lawyer may walk the client through this process and provide advice about how to present evidence and support the case.
If you are a small business owner and need legal advice in keeping your business running smoothly, give us a call at 253.858.5434 to see how we can help. We proudly serve clients throughout Washington and Idaho and are available to meet in person, by phone, or via Skype or FaceTime.