Why should your small business retain an attorney? After all, a junior attorney costs you about $150 an hour, and a senior partner, anywhere from $1,000 an hour. And anyway, you can do most of the paperwork yourself and keep the legal fees, right? Here’s where you’re wrong. Although they cost you in the short term, attorneys help your business in the long term. And here’s how.
When Starting a Business
Before starting a business, you must decide whether it’ll be a non-profit, a partnership, an LLC, a corporation, or a sole proprietorship. This seems like an easy task, but it’s not. Each entity has its own tax, liability, and funding requirements. To know which one suits you, and to file the necessary paperwork for each, you need an attorney’s help.
When Acquiring Licenses and Permits
After registering the business, you need licenses and permits to operate it. Again, you can choose to navigate the legal and bureaucratic hurdles alone. But as you’ll soon find out, this takes time. Or, you can get an attorney to do it for you while you focus your efforts on your business.
When Hiring and Firing Employees
Early in your business career, you likely work alone or with family. But as your business expands, you’ll have to take on extra staff and later lay some off. Either way, you’ll have to follow today’s strict employee laws, which touch on everything from benefits, health, safety, and anti discrimination. Without an attorney’s help in this crucial matter, you may end up with a lawsuit on your hands.
When Adhering to Zoning and Environmental Laws
Besides extra staff, your growing business will also need extra space. But while moving into new premises, make sure you know and adhere to the local zoning and environmental laws, which regulate how you use, lease, or even buy commercial property. Unfortunately, these regulations vary, depending on the county, city, or state you operate in. Even worse, they change every year, making them hard to follow without consulting an attorney
When Drafting and Negotiating Contracts
Over the course of your career, you’ll sign many contracts with suppliers, clients, and other businesses. And unless you have a legal background, you’ll end up signing contracts detrimental to you or your business. Yet despite the nature of these contracts, you’ll be legally bound to abide by them. So to be on the safe side, leave the drafting and negotiating of contracts to attorneys.
When Filing Tax Returns
You cannot run a business without paying income, state, and federal taxes. If you do, you’ll face steep penalties for non-compliance, or spend time behind bars. Unfortunately, the very nature of tax laws makes it hard for you to comply with them. They’re notoriously many, complex, and ever-changing. So unless you want to fall foul of the authorities, let a tax attorney file your taxes for you.
Though the sight of a hefty legal bill may tempt you to do away with a business attorney, don’t give in to the temptation. You’ll need the services of an attorney throughout your business career in everything from starting a business, filing tax returns, to hiring staff.