Most people think that lawyers are only necessary once you’ve already found yourself locked in a business deal. This misconception can lead to a failure to do your due diligence when entering into the business deal in the first instance to ensure that you and your business partners are protected before something goes wrong.
Here are some questions to ask yourself to determine whether or not you need a business lawyer:
1) Are there multiple people going into business together? It’s not uncommon for a few friends to come up with a business idea and to venture into a partnership together. Sometimes, though, the friendship trumps good business practices and the friends decide to forgo the services of a lawyer in exchange for a handshake and a verbal agreement. Sadly, these business arrangements may fail or friends in business part ways. In this unfortunate event, having a legally binding agreement in place that can protect the personal relationship can be invaluable and help friends and business partners avoid the nasty fallout of a failed business venture.
2) Does your business venture require you to have any type of patents or trademarks? If so, getting good legal help at the beginning can ensure that your inventions and trademarks are protected as best as they can be. Additionally, this process can be daunting and having someone with legal expertise in this area is invaluable – instead of trying to do it yourself.
3) Could you be sued in your business venture? (Hint: the answer is “yes”) In business, there is often the risk of legal action and having a lawyer that you are in an ongoing relationship with can ease the stress of these types of occurrences. And, if this lawyer has expertise in litigation and the courtroom, even better.
If you’re going into business, chances are that you have a service or product that you think you can provide better and/or cheaper than others. You’ve probably tried to convince a customer that they should just entrust their needs to you because you are skilled and experienced. This is exactly how you should think about a good lawyer as you go into business. Hiring a good lawyer (and you should always talk to several initially) to handle that side of your business will free you up to do what you know how to do and to do it well.