Startups and small businesses face all kinds of costs in the early going that can make it difficult to get off the ground. One such potential cost is whether or not to seek legal counsel. Under ideal conditions, a small business won’t need a legal advice, but if any legal issue pops up, even a small one, it can derail the entire company. If you run a startup or small business, here’s what you need to consider when deciding if you should hire a lawyer or not.
Are There Several Founding Members
If you’re starting a business with one or more other people, odds are all of you are good friends that get along, but what will happen if things head south? It’s usually best to have a lawyer from the beginning in these types of situations in order to establish what each person is entitled to if problems arise in the future. In a perfect world, a handshake and a promise are worth everything, but this is not a perfect world, which is why we have lawyers, and why a small business with multiple founders may want a lawyer from the start.
Are You Seeking A Trademark or Patent
Trademarks and patents are two tricky topics that definitely warrant involving a lawyer. The patent process is particularly long and arduous, and taking care of matters that are long and arduous is pretty much the job description of a lawyer. Even if you’re just thinking about applying for a patent, it is best to consult with a lawyer who has expertise in that field. Odds are, if you’re looking to make something official with a trademark or patent, you’ll need a lawyer on board.
Is It Possible You Will Be Sued
Few startups set out planning to be sued, but if you think there’s a chance something could go wrong with either a product or a customer and you could be sued for something, you’d be wise to have a lawyer beforehand. If you wait until you’ve been sued to hire a lawyer, it may be too late to do anything about it before that lawsuit causes your business to crumble. If you have any concern about a potential lawsuit, consider hiring a lawyer just in case.
Will There Be A Rapid Expansion
Any significant expansion to the company is going to require so much paperwork that it will be foolish not to have a lawyer. If your business has grown to the point that you’re bringing on shareholders or creating a board of directors, you’re definitely long overdue to have a legal counsel on retainer. But even if you’re simply expanding your workforce and planning to hire a large volume of new employees, you’ll want a lawyer to work out contracts and perhaps non-disclosure agreements for those new workers. If your business expands to anything bigger than a few people in a garage or a dorm room, it may be best to have a lawyer at your disposal.
Will You Be Selling Your Business or Buying Another Business
Perhaps this goes without saying, but any kind of major transaction like buying or selling is going to require consultation from a lawyer. Even if it’s a slightly less important transaction like a lease agreement, your best bet is to have a lawyer on your side to handle the negotiations. The cost of a lawyer may seem expensive, and at times unnecessary, to a startup, but at the end of the day, most will be glad to have one in their corner.