Business Law & Compliance

When you need a business lawyer for your company

6 min read

15 September 2016

If your company is still in its infancy, you’re still figuring out what to do about your legal matters. Lawyers aren’t cheap and you probably want to hold onto as much money as possible.

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You don’t want to spend unless it’s necessary, but you also don’t want to run into more expensive issues down the road that present themselves as a direct consequence of not having a lawyer when you need one. It’s a tricky situation, and there are some serious considerations to make. 

Figure out what you can do on your own

The majority of formative processes don’t require the assistance of a lawyer. For example, you can draw up a business plan using free legal forms online. You can also develop and trademark a brand, as previous information that’s been trademarked is saved to searchable archives. You can even decide the legal structure of your business (such as becoming an LLC or developing agreements for shareholders or partnerships) and apply for your employer identification number and relevant permits.

If you’re still establishing yourself, most of the prerequisites for getting your business off the ground are things you can do without the help of a lawyer. If you ever find that you’re confused or overwhelmed by the process, it doesn’t hurt to consult with a lawyer for some peace of mind.

Understanding when to get legal help

A lawyer is necessary when your situation pertains to the courts. If you’re being sued by an employee outside of a civil suit, you’ll want a lawyer’s representation. If any formal government organisations take issue with your operations, including the IRS, you won’t be able to handle those situations on your own. and you’ll also need a lawyer if you intend on selling your company, or acquiring another company. The same goes for major mergers. When trading, gaining, and dropping assets, a business lawyer needs to be involved to review all relevant agreements. 

Finding the right lawyer for the job

Much like doctors, lawyers all have their own areas of expertise. You wouldn’t want a lawyer who has built a foundation in acquisitions to represent you in court if an employee is suing you for workplace discrimination. Having the wrong kind of lawyer is basically equivalent to having no lawyer at all. It’s not as simple as clicking through legal listings and emailing the first law firm on the list. The lawyer you select should have specific experience that directly relates to the task at hand. If you’re having difficulty finding the right lawyer, contact a law firm that deals with a broad spectrum of legal issues. They’ll be able to point you in the direction of a partner that’s best suited to your needs. 

Continue reading to find out the pros and cons of retaining a business lawyer.

The pros and cons of retaining a business lawyer

Even if you don’t need a lawyer at the moment, you may still benefit from keeping one on-call. If your lawyer is already familiar with all of your dealings, he or she will be able to give you advice on legal matters before you do anything that can’t be undone. A great lawyer will be able to spot problems before they arise, and prevention helps things run smoothly. The only catch is that everything comes at a price.

Pros

•Retaining a lawyer can prevent issues that may otherwise become exceedingly costly to resolve.

•A retained lawyer will be thoroughly familiar with your business, and therefore better able to represent you. 

•If a legal issue arises, you’ll be able to respond faster than if you had to find a lawyer to take on your case. 

Cons

•Retainer fees are expensive, and can sometimes be unfeasible for businesses that don’t have much capital to play around with.

•You run the risk of never needing the lawyer you’re retaining. 

•The lawyer you retain may not specialise in the area where you wind up needing representation.

At the end of the day, the answer to the question isn’t always clear cut. When do you need a business lawyer for your company? Whenever you feel like it’s necessary. While there are some situations that absolutely cannot be handled without a lawyer, there are plenty of reasons to locate a lawyer before those situations occur. 

Think about the future of your business, and weigh the costs against what you’ll ultimately be receiving.

Katie Lee is a marketing manager at Harper Finch Lawyers – one of Brisbane’s criminal law firms, offering legal services pertaining to criminal and traffic offences.

Recently named in GQ’s “100 Most Connected Men 2016”, we met up with Sarosh Zaiwalla, founder and senior partner at Zaiwalla and Co, who not only employed a young Tony Blair, but also worked with the Dalai Lama and saved the Iranian-British entrepreneurial Tchenguiz brothers from jail.