Trying to Decide if You Need a Business Attorney?
Lawyers cost money. For cost-conscious business managers the question of when to seek help from a qualified lawyer can sometimes be challenging. There may be some situations where the need for qualified counsel is obvious, but there may be other situations where the need for counsel is less clear. Some business people may feel comfortable dealing with routine legal issues without counsel while others may prefer to have counsel involved in all legal matters. How do you know when to call a business attorney?
One question to ask is how large are the stakes. When the potential legal consequences of an action are significant, you should probably involve a lawyer early in the process. Situations where the need for counsel should be obvious include:
- mergers and acquisitions
- criminal investigations
- litigation or threatened litigation
- large intellectual property transactions
- real estate transactions
In these situations the consequences of making a mistake can be so severe that it just makes sense to involve a qualified business attorney right from the start.
On the other hand, when a matter is a routine, such as the hiring of a new entry level employee, there may be no compelling need to consult an attorney. If you have handled a similar matter before and educated yourself concerning the legal issues, you may be comfortable in handling such matters without involving an attorney. In these situations the attorney is there for you as a resource if you need him.
A Business Attorney Has Specialized Knowledge
Another question to ask is whether specialized knowledge is required to understand what is being considered. For instance, some matters involve questions of tax law and require the advice of a tax lawyer. Intellectual property law is another area where guidance from a legal expert may be helpful. In areas where you lack the required specialized knowledge, the advice of an expert is probably money well spent.
Business Attorneys Can Play Various Roles
Some experienced business people may feel comfortable handling routine legal matters without an attorney. Some may want an attorney to play an active role, while others may see an attorney as an occasional resource to use as needed. If you like handling your routine legal matters it is important to find a business attorney that respects your role and is willing to be there to “coach” you on an as needed basis. If you are comfortable drafting your own legal documents and then letting a lawyer review them, this can be a cost-effective approach to securing legal services.
Truly Simple Business Tasks Do Not Always Require a Business Lawyer
There are some things you may be able to without an attorney. Some tasks are simple and there may be good resources available to help you accomplish them without involving a lawyer. These include tasks such as forming a new corporation or LLC, applying for an employer identification number (EIN), applying for required licenses or permits, preparing minutes of meetings, and so forth.
Seemingly Simple Business Tasks May Still Warrant a Business Lawyer
Beware of things that seem simple, but may not be. Forms can be especially deceptive because you may assume it is alright to sign them. For instance, it may seem like signing a lease is a routine matter, but leases can be very complex and are of course subject to negotiation. It is best to have the advice of a qualified business attorney in drafting or reviewing a lease.
We have seen it suggested that business people can draft and enter into LLC operating agreements, shareholder agreements, and similar documents without an attorney. We think this is a mistake. These documents are not just meaningless boilerplate; the provisions in them have consequences, and provisions that are right for one situation may not be at all appropriate for another situation. Even business people that draft such documents from themselves will usually have an attorney review them before making finalizing them.
Consult with a Business Attorney at Thompson Law Office
One final thought. The cost of hiring a lawyer to help prevent a problem from arising is always less than the cost of paying a lawyer to try to fix a problem after it has arisen. The old adage that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure is quite apt in deciding when to consult a Nebraska business attorney. Call 402-934-0198 or toll-free 1-888-934-0198 or schedule a consultation online right now. You can learn more about Thompson Law Office, our legal professionals (including business attorney), and our business law practice.