The Value of Good Legal Counsel

An Ounce of Prevention Is Worth a Pound of Cure

 

When you’re trying to launch your business, taking the time to involve a lawyer might feel like a big cost. Sometimes it’s difficult to see what the benefit is for the business. Before you keep rushing forward with your startup, hit the pause button.

Think of an attorney’s contribution to a new business as if it were a travel vaccine. It’s only helpful if you get it before you leave the country. Trying to cure yourself, even with a doctor’s care, after you’ve become a victim of dangerous viruses or bacteria may be impossible – or a lengthy, painful recovery.

Learn more about the value of having a trusted legal partner from Rob Turner, attorney and founder of InTown Legal. Rob has been advising clients for over 15 years in the areas of legal business and commercial real estate. You can often find him coworking at Roam Buckhead.

“If you want to get a lot of legal ‘bang for your buck,’ be sure to include an experienced attorney early in your planning process,” says Turner. “They can provide enormous value in terms of business formation, contract creation and liability protection. For businesses with compliance requirements, it’s even more important to partner early to avoid any costly – or illegal – missteps.”

Entity Creation

Our recent blog post explained why a sole proprietorship might not be the best choice for operating your business. It’s important that you separate your personal assets from your professional ones – something a sole proprietorship doesn’t accomplish.

A qualified attorney will delve into your short- and long-term plans and advise you on the best option for setting up your business, whether it’s a limited liability corporation (LLC), C corporation, etc. They can also help you draft your articles of incorporation, bylaws and other initial documents. Having the appropriate setup and the right documents from the beginning can provide taxation efficiencies and confidence that your journey toward business growth, a private sale or even an IPO is on track.

Liability Protection

Shielding a business from liability is one of the most important services that a lawyer can provide. Whether you’re a local daycare, an online service provider, a freelancer or a manufacturer, there is no shortage of risk involved with any business – even those you might not suspect. Having the necessary contracts, even just a handful, to protect your business is a must because, like it or not, something is bound to happen eventually.

Good liability protection clauses and contracts go a long way to saving you time and money over the long term. A good contract can help make sure that a frivolous lawsuit gets thrown out quickly rather than dragging on (and costing even more money along the way). Contracts also help your business by specifying how disputes will be handled – through a certain state or county court system with a jury or through a professional arbitrator, etc. Common contracts around liability protection include non-compete agreements, terms and conditions of sale/service agreements, privacy policy, purchase order agreements, employee codes of conduct and more. Like a well-engineered vaccine, having these contracts in place before there’s a problem will make a mountain of difference toward protecting your business.

Trade Secret Defense

Attorneys can also enhance the profitability and longevity of your business through trade secret defense. Typically, this involves intellectual property protection (copyrights, trademarks and patents) as well as policies such as employee non-compete agreements, non-disclosure agreements and whistleblower protection policies.

Partner Early for Maximum Benefit

“When you take the time to build a relationship with a qualified attorney,” says Turner, “you benefit from having a partner who is looking out for your fledgling business. Rather than just a cost, they’re bringing value to your business because they’re looking at risk and opportunities from different angles than you are as the founder (and all the other hats you’re wearing). Attorneys know the worst-case scenarios that actually happen and how to help your business mitigate these threats. The trick is taking the time to build that relationship on the front-end – not after something negative has already happened.”

 

LEGAL DISCLAIMER: This post should not be construed as exhaustive or as legal advice. Hire legal counsel to get accurate, specific advice for your situation.

With his experience at Big Law, in-house, a boutique technology practice, as well as his own firm, Rob Turner of InTown Legal brings a unique, well-rounded perspective that’s refreshing to business owners focused on the bottom line. When he’s not spending time with his family or volunteering with the Atlanta Ronald McDonald House, you can catch him at Roam Buckhead.

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