of Illinois Lawyers
Do Small Business Owners Really Need a Lawyer
Consulting a lawyer often comes with a bill. When first establishing a business, many entrepreneurs are tempted to conclude that involving an attorney is an unnecessary expense that they can forego. However, engaging the services of a qualified business-minded lawyer can prove to be an incredibly cost-effective business decision that pays dividends now and for years to come.
There are many reasons why involving a lawyer can benefit a small business. Many businesses have multiple owners who start out with high hopes and the best of intentions but often neglect to take the time and resources to properly memorialize the terms of their partnerships. As we have discussed elsewhere, properly spelling out the terms of a business relationship at the outset can help to avoid problems down the line. This advice becomes even more applicable if one of the partners is a minority owner in the business.
Many business owners are focused not unsurprisingly on growing their businesses and are either unaware of or too busy to consider the laws that apply to their businesses and the obligations imposed by such laws. This is where a lawyer can help. Lawyers can help make sure that a business owner is aware of and operates by federal, state and local laws. Lawyers can also help to develop policies and procedures that ensure a business remains compliant with these laws as it grows. Ensuring compliance at the outset of a business can be much less costly than trying to do so after coming under investigation from some government agency.
Another area that lawyers can assist business owners with is in buying or selling a business. Many business owners do not start their companies but rather purchase existing companies. Small business owners who are considering purchasing a business or are negotiating to buy or sell their business should involve a lawyer in the transaction. Lawyers can help identify potential issues with a transaction and ensure that the parties’ intentions are properly reflected in a purchase agreement or other ancillary agreements such as transition or shared services agreements.
For those entrepreneurs that do decide to start a business from the ground up, an attorney can help them decide on the best structure and legal form for the company, be it a sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC or corporation. An attorney will be able to advise on the pros and cons of each legal entity type based on the nature and size of your business and can explain the tax and legal implications of each. A lawyer can also provide advice on the steps required to set up the legal entity and register the company and also the necessary permits or licenses required to operate the business.
A lawyer can also help by ensuring that a company has a solid suite of template contracts to ensure the company’s interests are served and the business does not take on too much risk when contracting. Being in business necessarily means entering contracts. From leases to employment agreements to sales contracts with customers, businesses enter many different types of agreements and do so frequently. Rather than relying on templates downloaded from the internet and hoping they apply to your goods or services or protect your unique interests, you can have an attorney prepare a bespoke set of contracts that you use most frequently.
Finally, an attorney can help if small business owners find themselves in litigation or the target of an investigation. For many small businesses it only takes one lawsuit to drive the company out of business or leave the owner drowning under significant debt. Involving a lawyer can help a small business owner navigate the perilous world of litigation while freeing the owner to focus on his business.
While it certainly isn’t impossible to start and run a business without the help of an attorney, nowhere is the old adage more true that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Involving a lawyer at the outset of a business can minimize and avoid costly and time consuming problems in the future. Having an experienced business attorney in your corner is one of the best ways to protect your small business. The business attorneys at Lubin Austermuehle have more than three decades of experience advising and representing small and medium-sized business owners. We have offices in Chicago as well as in DuPage County. We represent clients throughout Illinois, including the greater Chicagoland area, Wheaton, Hinsdale, Oak Brook as well as Indiana and Wisconsin. To schedule a consultation with a business litigation lawyer in Chicago, contact us via email, at 630-333-0333.