The Most Important Questions to Ask a Business Attorney
Have you recently started a small business? If so, you’re likely inundated with a host of tasks from day-to-day operations to planning for the future. You already know that there are a number of different legal issues that small business owners often face, which is why you want to be as prepared and informed as possible. Even with experience, this mad shuffle often reveals the limitations of your knowledge, which is why it’s best to enlist the help of a business attorney. While you may balk at the thought of paying attorney fees, the small upfront costs are well worth it since a business lawyer can help you assess and mitigate risk, uncover profit centers, and make informed decisions regarding small business law requirements—saving you a fortune over time.
To help you avoid legal problems with the different types of business contracts, state regulations, and other possible pitfalls with starting a business, we’ve created this guide to help you gain a better understanding of the entire process. Below you’ll discover some important questions you should consider bringing to your new lawyer’s attention when starting a business.
The Most Important Questions to Ask a Business Attorney
When you hire a lawyer, you want to be hiring a seasoned professional who has spent years studying and practicing law. Their time isn’t cheap, so you should try to make your meetings with them as productive as possible by having poignant questions on hand. Things you may want to ask can be divided into general questions and business-related questions:
These are questions pertaining to understanding who your lawyer is, how they operate, and what you should expect from them. They might include:
- How long have you been practicing law?
- What do you specialize in?
- What are your main roles and duties?
- What goes beyond that scope?
- How do you bill?
- What companies do you generally work with? Are they comparable to mine?
- Are you experienced with startups?
- Are you familiar with the laws of incorporation in my specific state?
If you want specific advice there are a couple of business-related queries you should make, especially to identify whether or not your lawyer is well-versed in your field.
Questions might include:
- What business structure should I select? – The first thing you’ll do when creating a small business is to determine its structure or entity. A business lawyer is a person best suited for helping you make that decision.
- Both sole proprietorships and general partnerships view the business and the owner as the same entity, so if there are debts or legal issues, you would be held liable.
- C Corps, S Corps, and LLCs help distinguish the business from the person so you don’t have to risk your personal assets should your venture fail.
Your lawyer will take a comprehensive view of your business and your plans and can help position you optimally. Doing so will impact how the business is owned, taxed, and managed.
- How do I minimize risk? – Starting a small business is a risky enough venture without all of the additional perils you might face. First, your lawyer can assess your situation and look for the areas of greatest risk. Once they’ve made a thorough appraisal of the business, they can make suggestions for how you can best address or avoid those issues. Common ways to do this include:
- Creating the ideal entity
- Obtaining proper insurance
- Obtaining necessary permits and licenses
- Following the best hiring practices
- Using thorough contracts
- Complying with local, state, and federal laws
In all likelihood, there are employment laws on the books that you’ve never heard of. Ignorance won’t save you in a court of law. By asking questions such as these, you can ensure that you are compliant with safety regulations, anti-discrimination, or employment and termination laws.
- How do I select my business name? – A name you select for your business is important, but many green business owners operate under the false assumption that they can simply pick any name and then start selling. There are state-specific rules and regulations about naming new business entities. In addition, you may need to worry about trademarks or naming mistakes (e.g., having a misleading statement in the name itself). A lawyer can help you research your options, search for availability, select the proper name, and then apply for rights of use.
- Is my business currently operating in a legal fashion? – You might not know that you’re currently operating in compliance with local, municipal, state, and federal laws. There may be fees, permits, and licenses you must pay or apply for in order to operate legally. Failure to take such actions can result in:
- Legal liability
- Business closure
By consulting with a seasoned attorney, you can establish that you’re currently operating within the boundaries of the law. If not, your lawyer can point out areas that require redress. In addition, laws and regulations are changed or updated regularly; therefore, you need a lawyer to apprise you of any such changes.
Covering Your Business
You’re not a lawyer. No amount of Google searches or blog posts will ever provide all the pertinent information you require. You need an experienced and knowledgeable barrister to come in, take your hand, and guide your business on all legal matters. A good lawyer will be able to answer questions, provide guidance, and discuss all potential problems you could face when starting a business.
That’s where Briggs Law can help. We’ve spent decades practicing business law. There’s not a law-related question that you could present to us that we haven’t seen or handled a dozen times before. We’ve taken the time to study the ins-and-outs of business law so that you don’t have to. And, no matter what stage of business you’re in, we want to help.
You focus on building your empire, and we’ll make sure it’s safeguarded.
“This blog article is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for client- and fact-specific legal advice from a qualified attorney.”
Filisko, G. Bankrate. 7 Ways to minimize small-business risk. https://www.bankrate.com/finance/money-guides/7-ways-to-minimize-small-business-risks-1.aspx
Ennico, C. Entrepreneur. How to Hire an Attorney. https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/58326
Branam, S. All Business. Why Every Business Needs an Attorney. https://www.allbusiness.com/every-small-business-needs-attorney-21067-1.html