Legal Guide

6 Different Types of Lawyers For Small Businesses

As a small business owner, you are likely to find yourself facing various legal obligations. You can perform some of these yourself, such as downloading contract templates from the internet when hiring. A big part of your small business' legal obligation will be very complicated for you to attempt without a lawyer, for example, defending the business against tax allegations in court or during mergers and acquisitions by or of other businesses. Therefore, hiring lawyers specializing in business law is recommended for any serious business owner.

The good news is that you do not have to keep an army of lawyers on retainers to feel reassured about your business' legal requirements. There are various kinds of lawyers that your small business can engage with on an as-needed basis. Depending on the specific kind of small business you run, most or a few of these categories of lawyers could prove necessary for your small business. 

Contract Lawyers

The quality of contracts your small business executes will largely determine your rights, duties, privileges, and remedies available to you in the various transactions undertaken in the course of business. Downloading templates of employment, procurement, or sub-contractor contracts off of the internet is an easy way to open your business up to lawsuits. The language in contracts often flies over the heads of non-specialists; using boilerplate contracts may end up costing you more than hiring a contract lawyer would have.

Contracts should be tailored to suit your unique needs. A contract lawyer will draw up employment contracts and manuals that shield you from the common employer-employee disputes at the workplace. A contract lawyer can also draw up a procurement contract that will guarantee discipline and reliability from your vendors by instituting penalties for late delivery, non-delivery, or delivery of substandard/damaged goods. 

Your small business will undoubtedly benefit from engaging a contract lawyer to review the current contract in force or draw up new ones that better suit your small business needs. Hiring a contract lawyer is a beneficial one-off expense because they are paid to draw and execute the binding legal contracts and do not require to be kept on retainer after that. 

General Business Lawyers

A general business lawyer is a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to the interests of your small business. Such a lawyer will be able to offer advice on varying legal matters. Business owners often assume that specific components of their business are legal when this may not be the case. A general business lawyer can dive deep into the various legal aspects of your business and give you a thorough report. The report would feature loopholes and possible challenges in employment, procurement, environmental, and tax practices. 

General business lawyers are best suited to small businesses that operate on a simple template and are not highly specialized, for example, general stores, automobile repair services, etc. Specialized business fields like restaurants, schools, and hospitals have additional intricate legal requirements that a general business lawyer may not adequately address. If your business deals in specialized circumstances, you are best served by a specialized lawyer. 

Labor And Employment Lawyers 

If you are the sole employee of your small business, you probably do not require a labor and employment lawyer. Otherwise, every small business with any employees would be prudent to consult a labor and employment lawyer to keep lawsuits at bay. Federal and state laws are very particular about the employer's duties and obligations. The last thing you want to do is blissfully ignore these stringent requirements because the penalties can cost you dearly. 

The most common labor and employment issues you are likely to face as a small business owner are hostile work environments, workplace discrimination, sexual harassment, and wrongful termination. Labor and employment  laws constantly evolve to keep up with the times, and keeping up can be a hassle. Labor and employment lawyers will keep your small business safe and compliant. 

Tax Lawyers

As a small business owner, hiring an accountant to do your taxes is the most efficient way of fulfilling that obligation. Sometimes, small businesses end up on the wrong side of the IRS because of incompetent accountants or errors when attempting to file tax returns without professional help. Whatever the reason, if your business is facing a tax charge in court, you have to hire an experienced tax lawyer. 

Taking legal action to defend your small business in a tax dispute is a complicated and nuanced matter that you should not handle by yourself. The consequences of losing a tax dispute in court for your small business are very dire and best staved off by a qualified tax lawyer. Be sure to choose a lawyer whose primary area of practice is tax law. 

Intellectual Property Lawyers

If your small business deals in trademarks and patents, then an intellectual property lawyer is a necessity. Such a lawyer will help you protect the economic value of your small business's intellectual property. Intellectual property lawyers specialize in brand recognition, trademarks, patents, and copyrights.

Further, an intellectual property lawyer will assess your services, products, and practices to ensure you are not in violation of another business' intellectual property. Intellectual property violations are often committed accidentally because many small business owners do not have the technical knowledge to recognize when they are in violation.

Mergers and Acquisitions Lawyers

Suppose your small business ends up in a mergers and acquisitions dance with another business. In that case, you will want to hire a competent mergers and acquisitions lawyer to fight for your interests. Selling your business is a complicated venture that requires a professional to assess the value of your assets and table your vested interests like the future of your employees after the merger.  

The savviest small business owners acknowledge the need for and recognize the value of a qualified legal resource to represent their interests. The best small business owners, however,  take proactive steps to protect their investments from frivolous and vexatious lawsuits and in order to ensure their business is compliant with all applicable laws. Do your research, ask for referrals and interview potential lawyers to be at the ready when you come calling.

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