The Most Important Questions to Ask an Attorney Before Starting a Business
In a given year, 90% of businesses get engaged in litigation at any given time. And 36%-53% of small businesses get involved in at least one litigation.
You don’t want to think about having to call your lawyer to protect your business. But the truth is, statistically, you’re going to have to call them sooner rather than later.
Don’t wait until you get sued to get in touch. Here are the most important questions to ask an attorney when you’re first starting a business.
How Can a Business Lawyer Help My Business?
A business lawyer covers a wide variety of tasks for a business, advising them on their legal rights, responsibilities, and obligations.
You might not want to contact a lawyer until you’re already in trouble, but the truth is, you should be in touch with a business lawyer way before that. If you contact a lawyer after the sheriff is knocking on your door, all they can really do is minimize damage.
Instead, get in touch with a business lawyer early and ask more about what a business attorney can do for you.
How Should I Structure My Business?
This seems like a basic question, but it’s actually one of the most important things you can ask when you sit down with a business attorney.
The structure of your business isn’t just a formality. It changes how you file your taxes, and it changes your degree of risk.
If you don’t form a formal business entity, your business will be a sole proprietorship or general partnership, which involves a higher degree of risk. To limit liability, you could form a limited liability company, limited liability partnership, or a corporation.
If you don’t know which one is best for your company, it’s vital that you ask a business attorney so that you don’t run into problems later.
How Do I Protect My Personal Assets?
Regardless of the specific structure you choose for your business, you want to structure your business to protect your non-business assets.
How many stories have you heard about a person losing their home or other assets when their business runs into financial trouble? You don’t want that to happen to you.
This is where a business attorney comes in. They can help you make sense of how to protect your assets and the regulations you need to follow to ensure your assets are protected.
How Do I Minimize My Risk?
Regardless of the type of business you own, there is a huge range of state and federal regulations that apply to you.
If you don’t comply with all of them, it can cost you big, everything from fines to employment-related litigation.
Laws and regulations can cover everything from anti-discrimination laws to wage laws and health and safety regulations. As any lawyer will tell you, ignorance of the laws doesn’t excuse not following them.
One of the important things a business lawyer can do for you is let you know what regulations you need to be aware of and what you are legally allowed to do.
What Should Be in My Bylaws?
Part of this process of minimizing risk and protecting your assets involves writing your bylaws properly.
These bylaws are the roadmap to running your business. It tells you what you do and how to do it. It explains how decisions will be made, how to handle ownership changes, how to issue stock, and when and how to run shareholder meetings.
All of this comes with more legal red tape than you might think. A corporate attorney can ensure that your bylaws are written well enough to keep your business safe.
How Can I Protect My Intellectual Property?
All businesses, yours included, need certain trademarks to identify themselves from other businesses.
This can include everything from your business name to your slogans to your packaging. But you need to take the proper steps to protect your business against theft of intellectual property.
To do this, you need to register your trademark with the US Patent and Trademark Office. Businesses may also have copyrights for products, especially if you work in a creative field.
A business lawyer can help you identify what intellectual property needs protecting and how you can properly protect it.
What Contracts Does My Business Need?
Contracts are one of the most basic things you deal with on a day-to-day basis in your business. But they’re central to successfully running a business, as they spell out your responsibilities and obligations in any agreement.
A well-written contract can reduce the number of legal disputes, ensure you get paid, and provide a clear course of action if one party doesn’t hold up their end of the deal.
This is why it’s vital to talk to a business attorney about what kinds of contracts your business needs. You should also ask a business attorney to help write your contracts.
They can help you with one-off contracts and help you draft standard contracts that you’ll use over and over, like employment contracts.
More Questions to Ask an Attorney
Now that you know what questions to ask an attorney, you need to find an attorney to answer them for you.
That’s where we come in.
We help you find the right lawyer for your business, whatever your specific needs are. If you’d like to start using our service, check out our pricing options, or get in touch with any questions you may have.