How Can Corporate Lawyers Help A Small Business?
When running a business, you’ll typically run into legal needs and issues from time to time.
While some legal matters are fairly simple and straightforward, others – like violating a zoning regulation – are complex and can lead to dire consequences.
As a small business, you can’t afford to violate any laws. You’ll spend lots of time undergoing regulatory audits and a single fine can be enough to knock you out of business.
To ensure your business is always on the right side of the law, it’s important to engage the services of corporate lawyers.
Keep reading to learn the many ways these lawyers can help a small business.
Is Incorporation Right for You?
It’s the dream of most entrepreneurs to grow their small businesses into multi-billion corporations.
Even though this dream begins when the business is still in the conception stage, it really gathers momentum when you’re ready to incorporate. But is incorporation the right step for the business?
Incorporation – whether federal or provincial – comes along with a number of benefits. The creation of a separate legal entity means you will enjoy limited liability, and lower corporate tax rates mean more profits will end up in the pockets of the owners.
However, there are instances when incorporation might not be the right step for your small business. For instance, your business could be at a very young stage, or diluting your ownership might mean you no longer have the sole power to develop and implement strategy for the enterprise.
Given these conditions, it’s not uncommon to find entrepreneurs who are not sure whether to incorporate or not. This is why you need to bring corporate lawyers on board.
They will assess your small business, counsel you on the pros and cons of incorporation, and ultimately help you determine whether it is the right step for you.
If it’s the right step, incorporating involves conducting a name search, drafting the articles of incorporation, filing them with the relevant registry offices, and developing bylaws.
Develop Sound Business Governance Policies
Poor corporate governance is one of the main reasons new business fail before they even celebrate their fifth birthday.
How sound are your business’s governance policies? Do you hold meetings with partners/shareholders on a regular basis? Do you have minutes of these meetings? Who records these minutes?
If you had to think over any of these questions, that’s a clear indication you need to engage the services of corporate lawyers.
These professionals will assess your current governance structure, find faults and recommend ways to make it more effective.
If your small business is already a corporation, there are legal requirements you must adhere to on an on-going basis.
A corporate lawyer will ensure a small business adheres to these requirements so that it’s able to maintain its corporation status, as well as avoid fines.
Protect Intellectual Property
To build a successful business in a fiercely competitive marketplace, you need to offer a unique product or service.
In most instances, this means you’ll need to invent or innovate your offering.
If this is what you’ve done, congratulations. But that is only half the journey. The other half involves taking the right measures to protect your innovation, brand, trademarks, industrial designs and other intellectual properties.
Now, what do you know about intellectual property laws in Canada? If you’re not a lawyer, chances are you know very little.
And if you keep doing business without protecting your intellectual property, nothing will stop other businesses from stealing them.
The smart thing to do is to hire corporate lawyers with a solid understanding of Intellectual Property law.
These lawyers will serve as your patent agents, assess the patentability of your innovations, and spearhead their registrations. If you have to license your innovation to a manufacturer, they can lead the negotiations and draft the agreements.
Craft Employment Agreements
Employees are the lifeblood of any organization.
Yet, many small business owners haven’t quite grasped the concept of managing the modern-day worker.
Did you know nothing (unless protected by IP laws) stops an employee from resigning, and then using their knowledge of your business to start a similar business?
We’re certain you’re now thinking about the many employees who know your deepest trade secrets! If none of those employees have non-compete or non-disclosure agreements, it’s time to get in touch with corporate lawyers!
Your lawyers will draft these agreements, and ensure employees know what the agreements mean before they sign.
With such agreements, your business will remain protected even if those employees leave the company.
Your small business might find itself on the wrong end of a lawsuit.
If you fire an employee without following due procedure, they can sue you. If a supplier believes you’ve breached a contract, they’ll want to see you in court. If a customer suffers harm when using your product, they can come after your business.
In short, there are many different reasons your business might be sued, and some of them are out of your control. Regardless of the reason, though, it pays to be prepared.
Don’t wait until you’re sued to hire corporate lawyers. This means they’ll need to work overtime to gather the facts of the case and prepare a rock-solid response.
Having these lawyers on your payroll ensures they’re on hand to respond to any lawsuit immediately. In fact, they can even prevent lawsuits.
In most cases, the aggrieved party will reach out to your business and try to seek a settlement. With corporate lawyers on your team, they will know when it’s best to seize a settlement opportunity instead of going to court.
In the event that your small business has to appear in court, you can count on the lawyers to defend its interests.
Stay Abreast of Legal Changes
Business laws and regulations change from time to time.
As a small business owner, it’s safe to say you don’t have the time to keep tabs on what the lawmakers are doing. If a legal change doesn’t make it to the news, you might never learn of it.
And if the legal change affects your business, you’ll keep doing things the old way, oblivious of the possibility that you could be violating the law. Sooner or later, the authorities will catch up with you. Do you think they’ll let you off the hook because you didn’t know about the changes?
Hiring corporate lawyers is the most effective way to ensure your business stays on top of regulatory changes. The lawyers will keep an eye on what lawmakers and regulatory agencies are doing, and take note of any legal or regulatory changes that’ll affect the operations of your small business.
If the business needs to tweak some operations in order to maintain legal compliance, the corporate lawyers will provide the necessary recommendations.
How to Find the Right Corporate Lawyers for Your Small Business
There is no doubt corporate lawyers are crucial to the success of a small business.
But just as crucial is the need to hire the right lawyers. Incompetent lawyers will not only waste your time and money, but also give you counsel that can set up your business for failure.
So, how do you find the right lawyers?
Your primary focus is to find a lawyer who understands your market or niche. If your small business provides environmental protection solutions, your ideal lawyer must have experience working with similar businesses.
Another crucial factor is to look at the size of the law firm. Small businesses typically avoid large law firms because the costs are prohibitive, but this doesn’t mean you should settle for a small firm. Go for a firm with the resources to support all its clients.
If you’re hiring an in-house corporate lawyer, ensure he or she has the vast experience under his belt. How many years have they have been in practice? Have they represented any major clients? Have they won any corporate cases?
Running a small business can be an easy or difficult task. It all depends on the people you bring on board to help you out.
Corporate lawyers are some of the professionals you’ll need on your team. Thanks to this article, you now know how these lawyers will help take your business to the next level. We’ve even gone a step further and provided the information you need to help with hiring the right lawyer!
Good luck, and don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you have any business registration questions.