Many people think that they don't need an attorney unless something goes wrong or they get sued. While it is true that an attorney can help you out if there is the possibility of a lawsuit, small business owners often miss out on the other beneficial support that an attorney can provide to avoid potential litigation and help their business thrive. There are several reasons why a small business may not want to have an attorney on retainer, but the main one is cost.
Most businesses understand that there are complexities to contract law, employment law, and other areas where an attorney's advice could be useful, but it is simply not practical to consider hiring full-time counsel or even part-time counsel. However, there are law firms that will provide general legal counsel to small businesses at an affordable monthly flat rate or on an as needed hourly basis.
The important thing is to try to find an attorney that you can develop a good working relationship with now before there is an issue. If you own a small business, there are numerous areas where the advice of a licensed attorney can be extremely useful and will help you avoid potential litigation. In addition to reducing your potential liability, you will also have the peace of mind of knowing that you are doing everything you can to protect your business.
Having the guidance of an attorney will allow you to focus on the hard work of growing your business instead of worrying about contract terminology, wage and hour laws, premises liability or other issues that can arise. An attorney can also assist you in negotiating lease agreements or reviewing other real estate documents. Another difficulty that new or expanding businesses may face is dealing with governmental regulations regarding land use. An attorney will guide you through that process to give you the best chance possible for zoning approval. The important thing to remember is that handling all of these things yourself will take time away from your focus on connecting with customers and managing your employees so that they can develop and succeed.
If you are interested in having an attorney available anytime that you need them, the best course of action is to start meeting with attorneys now to interview them. Most attorneys will do a free initial consultation where you can get to know them and they can learn more about your business and describe the services that they can offer to you. Ask about different pricing options and discuss matters you think they might be needed for. Also, ask about their experience handling matters for businesses that are of a similar size to yours. Meeting face to face with several attorneys may seem like a daunting task, but finding an attorney you can trust that will be with you step by step as your business continues to grow will be worth it in the long run.
No matter how small your business is or how many employees you have, there will be times when an issue comes up and you debate whether you should contact an attorney. It may be a question about the new overtime rules or a question about a contract term that is added to an agreement by a vendor. The question might seem small, but the potential ramifications could be huge and having an attorney you can call to run something by quickly can alleviate a lot of stress.
If you have ever thought about contacting an attorney about a business-related issue but didn't, don't let it happen again. You have everything to gain and nothing to lose by finding someone with legal expertise you can count on whenever you need them.
Jason M. Gray is a Business, Contract, Employment, Land Use, and Estate Planning Attorney with Kootenai Law Group, PLLC in Coeur d'Alene. If you have questions about business law, employment law, contract law, or land use law, contact Jason at 208-765-6555, Jason@KootenaiLaw.com, or visit www.KootenaiLaw.com.
This has been presented as general information and not as legal advice. Do not engage in legal decision-making without the advice of a competent attorney after discussion of your specific circumstances.