Read on to find out when it makes sense to hire a lawyer for your business startup and how they can help your business succeed.
What Does a Business Lawyer Do?
Business lawyers make sure your company is in compliance with all of the laws and requirements that apply in your industry. They ensure your business is on good legal footing from the start and alert you to any legal changes that may affect your taxes, hiring practices, and other procedures.
In the early stages of a startup, a lawyer will typically help with:
- Deciding how to legally structure your business
- Applying for any trademarks, copyrights, or patents you may need
- Understanding the tax consequences of important decisions
- Negotiating partnership agreements or joint ventures
- Creating employee agreements
- Helping you raise seed funding or venture capital
A business lawyer can also help you deal with any future litigation. No one expects to be sued, but legal troubles can happen at any time. A good corporate attorney can make the difference between surviving a lawsuit and watching your business collapse. It’s better to be prepared by finding a lawyer you trust before you’re in the middle of a legal mess.
In short, business lawyers can help you avoid catastrophe and save money so you can focus on growth. You won’t regret taking the time to find an experienced lawyer for your business startup!
Does My Startup Really Need a Business Attorney?
For many, if not most startups, a business lawyer should be considered an essential partner. You need to make sure you’re not accidentally violating any laws, doing business in a way that creates unnecessary tax liability, or making other legal mistakes.
We highly recommend hiring a business lawyer when your startup is:
- Incorporating or forming a business entity
- Negotiating contracts, including establishing terms of service for websites or software license agreements
- Hiring its first employees
- Raising capital
Hiring a business lawyer is one of the best steps you can take to control risks in your interactions with customers, employees, and suppliers. It’s always wise to establish your rights and expectations from the beginning, especially if multiple people are involved in creating your company. A business lawyer can help you avoid future trouble in areas you may not have thought about.
Many entrepreneurs do not think to hire a business lawyer until they run into legal trouble. However, it’s generally easier to find a lawyer before you need one. Being proactive gives you more time to find the best candidate and allows you to avoid some potential legal problems before they happen.
How to Hire the Right Business Lawyer
Your business lawyer should be familiar with your industry and local regulations. Here are a few simple ways to find a good startup lawyer:
Ask Your Personal Lawyer for a Referral
If you previously worked with a good lawyer in your area to draft a will, settle an estate, or deal with other concerns, you may want to ask them for a referral to a business lawyer. Most experienced legal practitioners know other qualified professionals who specialize in other areas of law.
Be sure the lawyer you ask knows that you have a startup rather than a mature business, since this may affect which lawyer they recommend.
Watch Out for Business Lawyers at Startup Events
Experienced startup lawyers are sometimes asked to speak at or attend business events. If you are attending a virtual conference, startup incubator, or another business-related event in the near future, keep an eye out for legal professionals on the guest speaker list and make a point of getting their contact info.
Keep in mind that it is generally a bad idea to ask for legal advice at an event. Instead, you should reach out to the lawyer during or after the event to schedule an appointment.
Try an Online Lawyer Directory
There are many online directories you can use to find business lawyers in your area, including sites like Avvo or Lawyers.com. These sites make it easy to find nearby lawyers with the type of expertise, rating, language, and years of experience you need.
Regardless of how you find a lawyer, you should take the time to interview them before making a hiring decision. Here are a few questions to ask any business lawyers you are considering:
- Are you available to work with my company right now?
- How much experience do you have advising startups?
- Do you have any experience with businesses in my industry? (This is especially important if you are in a highly regulated industry such as pharmaceuticals, aerospace, or child care.)
- What is your fee structure, and what are your rates?
- How will you communicate with me? How soon can I expect a reply if I call or email you with a question?
- Do you have any conflicts of interest with working with my business?
It’s very important to make sure your business lawyer has experience working with startups. Some business attorneys work primarily with large corporations, which means they may not be as familiar with the legal complexities involved in launching a startup.
If you have plans to purchase a commercial space, get a patent or trademark, or deal with a lawsuit, be sure to find a lawyer who has expertise in that area. A commercial real estate attorney will be better equipped to handle any real estate transactions, and you will definitely need a corporate attorney who is experienced in litigation if your company has been sued.
Find a Lawyer for Your Western Washington Startup Business
The Anderson Hunter Law Firm includes several experienced business lawyers who provide full-service representation. We have been supporting the legal needs of individuals and businesses in Snohomish County since 1893. If you need a lawyer for your business startup, reach out to us today.