Everything You Need to Know About Business and Corporate Law Services
When an entrepreneur comes up with a business idea, the focus is on the excitement of a new venture. While figuring out the logistics of a new business, it’s unlikely that the first thought is about contracts and taxes. While these aren’t the most glamorous parts of starting a business, they are essential to ensuring and protecting any business’s success.
What key points should a business owner understand when starting a new business? This article will cover everything you need to know about business and corporate law services. By the end of this article, you will know
What are business and corporate law?
Business and corporate law encompass the practice of law regarding the formation, continuation, and protection of various businesses and corporations. There are many types of business and corporate law. Still, some examples of business and corporate law that you may be familiar with are:
- Forming an entity such as an LLC, corporation, or non-profit. By legally filing to form an entity, entrepreneurs and small business owners can protect themselves from liability, gain certain tax advantages, and access other benefits for businesses and those who start them.
- Employment laws include wage and hours issues, discrimination/sexual harassment claims, and family/medical leave. This is an important area for businesses to be aware of, as not following relevant employment laws could lead to severe consequences, such as lawsuits.
- Business & Corporate Contracts, employment agreements, partnership agreements, customer terms and conditions, vendor contacts
- Intellectual property law, which can protect any intellectual property that is used in the operations of your business or the services and products you provide. Some ways that intellectual property can be legally protected include copyrights, trademarks, patents, and trade secrets.
- Franchise Law: look up the general definition
- Mergers & Acquisitions
- Real Estate
While there are other circumstances in which business and corporate law expertise may be necessary, these are usually not needed in the early stages of the business. For example, bankruptcy law isn’t usually considered relevant when the business is just starting, and anti-trust law likely isn’t relevant to a brand-new business still finding its place in the market. Still, we will go into more detail about the different types of business law and what they mean.
What does a business lawyer do?
Business lawyers are valuable sources of information and insight at every stage of a business’s lifecycle. From an initial strategy session to detailed questions about a business move you’re considering, a good business lawyer can advise you on the best path forward based on your personal and business goals. Whether you have questions for them about a specific legal issue or simply want to know more about ways to protect your business, talking to a professional is always an excellent next step.
At Counxel, we value the personal relationships that our lawyers build with the businesses we serve. By getting to know you and your business’s story over time, we can provide personalized recommendations based on our knowledge of business law and our understanding of your business. Not only do we offer legal advice, but we provide insights into what we would do if we were in your shoes.
We also work with you to ensure that your business follows all relevant regulations. This can help prevent costly issues in the future due to non-compliance with applicable laws.
Business lawyers can also help with the day-to-day legal tasks of operating a business, such as filing paperwork to protect your business’s unique name and advising you on whether a certain policy change follows best practices.
How much does a business lawyer cost?
As with most industries, a business lawyer’s fees vary widely depending on their experience, what they specialize in, and where they practice. However, most business lawyers generally charge between $300 and $750 an hour for their time.
Because lawyers’ fees can be a major expense for businesses, especially in the early stages of starting a business, it’s important to ensure that you are working with a business lawyer who truly understands you and your business. This understanding will help them be as efficient as possible while helping you with the various issues and questions you may have for them.
This is also important to remember as you consider what your business can afford. Whether you’re working with a small budget or money isn’t a concern for you, it’s a good idea to communicate any financial limits you have with your business lawyer before it has the opportunity to become an issue. If your lawyer knows that you are working with a specific budget, they may be able to make recommendations to help you stay within that budget while still taking steps to protect the future of your business.
Types of business and corporate law
Earlier in this piece, we reviewed a few of the most common business and corporate law types. Still, there are many different types of business and corporate law that you may need over the years. Next, we will go more in-depth about these business and corporate law types and what you need to know. If you have further questions about any specific type of business law, you can always review our blog to find more resources.
Employment law is a complex subject that many employers hope they will never grapple with. However, it is an important part of business law, and to protect your business from wrongful claims, you will need to understand how it works – or work with a lawyer who understands.
Claims from current or former employees against your business can cause much damage. For example, some things to consider when facing these claims include financial liability, damage to the reputation of your business, and the disruption of your day-to-day operations. Even if you don’t have to change the way you do things immediately, the emotional toll of such claims may cause decreased productivity across your team.
It is a shock to the system, and employers rarely see it coming. While no one wants to think they need to prepare for such claims, having a business lawyer in your corner can help you with litigation and representation should employment law issues arise.
The negotiation process, in business law, happens when two or more parties have opposing interests as far as what should be done and attempt to work it out. If the negotiation is successful, the dispute will be resolved, and there will be a clear path forward that all parties are satisfied with. If the negotiation is unsuccessful, further legal actions may need to be taken before a resolution can be reached.
When issues arise with your business that could be taken to court, mediation allows everyone involved to avoid the expansive stress and expense of a formal court appearance. In mediation, each side of a dispute sits down with a neutral party to try to reach a settlement that meets everyone’s needs.
While everyone may still not get what they want with a mediation process, people can sometimes get a more desirable outcome and have a less stressful time getting there. Even if it’s likely that an issue will end up as a more significant legal process, starting with mediation is often a good idea to at least make an effort to avoid any severe legal consequences.
Contract disputes usually occur when one or more parties are found or believed to be in breach of their contract. To be in breach of contract, an individual or business must have failed to do what they agreed to do in the contract without any legitimate legal excuse.
Some breaches of contract are considered minor, such as whether an item was delivered on time or not when hard deadlines were not previously specified. However, other breaches of contract may be considered material, such as a party failing to deliver the correct product or not delivering any product. Whether the breach is minor or material will significantly impact how it is handled and what is considered a fair resolution to the issue.
Some contracts will have clauses in them regarding how disputes should be managed. For example, some may state that issues below a certain dollar amount must be resolved through arbitration. Because these details can be easy to miss in the heat of the moment, it’s valuable to take the time to have a lawyer for business contract law review your contract before you take any steps that may violate it.
Partnership disputes and the litigation process that follows usually involve two or more business partners that wish to dissolve their business relationship due to differing goals and opinions. Sometimes, these disputes can be resolved with strategies like mediation, but other times litigation may be required.
Either way, it’s important to be able to work with professionals in the business and corporate law industry to ensure that the process is as streamlined and painless as possible for everyone involved.
One-way business partners may choose to separate by having one or more business partners buy out the partner or partners that would like to leave the business. This process can be somewhat lengthy and often involves a valuation, a timeline for the buyers to pay out the sellers, and any other relevant information about the exit of some business partners.
While this process can sometimes happen amicably between business partners, even when that is the case, it’s still a good idea to consult with a business lawyer to ensure that everything done is both agreeable to all parties and following all applicable laws.
There are many real estate and property disputes. Still, we will go over two of the most relevant types for entrepreneurs: commercial disputes between landlords and tenants and commercial disputes between co-owners and/or co-tenants of the same property.
In the case of commercial disputes between landlords and tenants, there are a few areas for disagreement.
- Dilapidation disputes usually involve the state of a rented property at the end of the lease. For example, tenants are usually responsible for the basic upkeep of a commercial rented property. Still, disagreements about basic upkeep vs. normal wear and tear may lead to a dilapidation dispute.
- Rent arrears are a way for a landlord to pursue payments from the current or former tenant that were not paid on time.
While these aren’t the most common applications of business and corporate law, they are important disputes to be aware of should you ever find yourself in a difficult situation as a tenant or landlord.
Suppose you are concerned about whether your current landlord or tenant is following their contract and all applicable laws or other legal real estate matters. In that case, your best bet is to meet with a business attorney that can advise you on the matter.
In an ideal world, business dissolutions would only happen amicably between the entrepreneurs that started the business, but that isn’t always the case. A business may face involuntary dissolution if it fails to pay its taxes. Another scenario where a company may face involuntary dissolution is when the shareholders cannot agree on whether the company should be dissolved or not, resulting in unresolvable disputes within a business.
Wherever a given business may be on this spectrum, from an amicable, planned dissolution to an involuntary dissolution due to an unforeseen circumstance, a business dissolution lawyer can help entrepreneurs and shareholders wrap up their time in business efficiently, with minimal damage.
While this isn’t always the first step in forming a business, it is undoubtedly one of the earliest. For a business to manage taxes properly and be seen as legitimate in some industries, it must be recognized by the government as a specific type of business. While many different types of businesses exist, each of which has its pros and cons, it’s reasonable to expect that one of the first legal actions you will take as an entrepreneur will be to file for legal recognition as a business.
Even once you’ve filed all the legal documents needed for your business to be recognized as a legal entity, there is more you can do to protect yourself from liability down the line – or put yourself at risk.
For example, can you keep your business and personal finances separate? If not, that co-mingling could cause problems for your business in the long run. Signing documents as an individual while acting as a business executing paperwork can also cause problems down the line.
Suppose you are concerned that you need to maximize your liability protections or may even be putting yourself at risk. In that case, it’s essential to consult with a lawyer as soon as possible to learn what choices are best for you and your business.
Contract disputes aren’t the only time to consider hiring a lawyer to be involved in your contracts. Having your lawyer involved in all contracts regarding your business from the beginning can help ensure that your contracts are efficient, enforceable, and clear to everyone involved. Business contracts are often long and may include legal jargon and wording that is not easy for laypeople to understand. Having an attorney review these contracts for you, and ensure that they are in your best interest before you sign them, can save you a lot of stress and frustration later on.
Appellate practice involves representing a specific person or entity through an appeals process. An appeals process is usually initiated because one or more parties believe that an initial judgment in the matter was incorrect. Thus, they wish to seek an opportunity to present their case to a higher court that can undo the initial judgment if they agree that it was incorrect.
While going through the appeals process is not ideal, it can be made easier by having an expert lawyer who can guide you through it and ensure that you know your options at every stage of the appeals process.
Questions To Ask A Business Lawyer
When you are considering hiring a lawyer for your business, there are many things to consider. Here are some questions to ask a business lawyer you are considering working with:
- What are your specific areas of practice?
- If we need help outside of your specific areas of practice, are there any lawyer referral services you use or firms that specialize in other areas that you could recommend to us?
- Are you familiar with legal matters for the type of business I run? (Examples may include: franchising law, collections lawyers, real estate matters, land use disputes, and leasing disputes.)
- If I like working with you, is there a referral program I can use to send friends and colleagues of mine to your business?
- How frequently do you prefer to meet with your clients? What is the cadence of communication between these appointments?
- How do your billing cycles work?
- Are you prepared to help me with legal matters I see in my business’s near future? (Examples may include succession planning, buyout/restructuring disputes, debt collection, and LLC operating agreements.)
- Is there a chance of any conflict of interest impacting our work with you?
- Is there anything else I should know about you and your experience before I decide whether or not to move forward in working with you?
This is certainly not an exhaustive list of things to ask an attorney you are considering hiring. Still, it is a good starting point for anyone trying to develop a list of questions to ask as they make this critical decision. Before going into a consultation or initial meeting with a lawyer, consider writing out and customizing any questions relevant to you and your business to ensure the conversation is productive.