Corporations and small businesses are sites of expertise in their own industries. Business executives are highly specialized professionals whose primary focus is on the efficient and profitable management of their businesses. These professionals should be able to devote their time and energy to that purpose—not to worrying about legal issues large and small for their companies. If you are managing a corporation or small business, you should seriously consider keeping a lawyer on retainer or as in-house staff to help you navigate legal matters. Below are a few of the reasons that you should retain a dedicated lawyer who is familiar with your business.
Contracts and other business agreements
Whatever your business, chances are good that you routinely enter and execute contracts with a variety of parties. Typical corporate contracts include sales contracts, leases (real estate and otherwise), supply agreements, and partnership or corporate structure documents. The consequences can be severe if one of these agreements contains an unfavorable or unenforceable provision. While your business staff may be skilled negotiators, a lawyer can review these documents to help protect your company from litigation or other negative effects from unenforceable contracts.
The human resources minefield
Employment law is a complex area of law with radically different requirements for different types of businesses and employees. A general counsel can assist you and your human resources staff with common legal issues surrounding employee leave, benefits, and hiring practices.
Depending on the nature of your business, you may be subject to various regulatory requirements at the local, state, and federal levels. Examples include securities regulation, environmental regulation, campaign finance/political regulation, and intellectual property filings. Since regulatory infractions can result in substantial fines, it is important to remain on top of these ever changing rules. A lawyer can help you identify relevant requirements and complete any necessary filings or reports to the government.
Your tax liability and responsibility depends in part on the corporate structure of your company. While you should use a certified accountant for tax preparation, a lawyer can assist you with tax planning and counseling to help you minimize your overall tax burden. A lawyer can even help you structure your business at the outset in a way that reduces tax liability.
Litigation and crisis management
While the other examples have concerned mainly “chronic” legal issues, having a lawyer on staff can also help you in case of “acute” legal issues such as civil or criminal litigation or government investigation. In addition to drafting pleadings, a lawyer can assist you with settlement negotiations.
Because these legal matters can be incredibly time-consuming, maintaining a lawyer on staff ensures that your company devotes the proper attention to legal obligations while your business professionals remain focused on the business itself. You can retain outside counsel from a firm like Carter West that has experience across each of these areas, or you can hire in-house counsel as an employee of the business itself. Whatever option you choose, you can rest assured that a trained lawyer will minimize your business liability and ultimately save your company money in the long run.