If you own and operate a business in 2016, you should be aware of the numerous legal perils that await unsuspecting business owners. Today business owners face lawsuits from dissatisfied clients, disgruntled employees, government regulators and even competitors in the market. Facing these legal challenges alone will drain you emotionally and ultimately hurt your bottom line. A wise business owner will invest in the services of a business attorney in 2016 to help prevent these issues and deal with them judiciously. Here are three reasons why entrepreneurs should consult with a business attorney in the New Year:
1) You should consult with an attorney this New Year if you have contracts.
Let’s face it, almost all of our business relationships are governed by contracts. As a business owner you do not have the time and for most entrepreneurs the training to understand the contracts that you are signing. Why does it matter? Did you know that if you fire a key employee that understands your business in and out that employee can open a business next door and take away all of your clients and years of hard work. Attorneys draft non-compete agreements to deal with this issue but the agreement must be narrowly tailored so that the restriction is not a restraint of trade. Did you know that if your contract has an attorney’s fee provision you may have to pay for the other party’s attorney’s fees even if you did not initiate the lawsuit? You may want this provision in your contract or you may not. What is important is that you are aware of it and plan accordingly when resolving disputes.
2) You should consult with an attorney this New Year if you have employees or independent contractors working for you.
If you have employees or independent contractors you need to know the difference because your rights and obligations differ depending on the status of that worker. For example, an independent contractor is not entitled to unemployment benefits but an employee is. Even if you classify that worker as an independent contractor a government regulator could say that he or she is truly an employee. For guidance determining whether your worker in an employee or independent contract, see “Fact Sheet 13: Am I an Employee?: Employment Relationship Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).” As a business owner, you want to make the relationship clear contractually and in how you interact with that worker.
3) You should consult with an attorney this New Year if your clients have outstanding balances on their accounts.
Many times in business clients receive the goods or services now and pay later. When a client is obligated to pay you later you want to make sure that your interests are adequately protected. A business attorney will help you assess whether you can improve your collection procedures and possibly avoid non-payment or litigation. Sometimes a simple phone call or letter from your attorney can do the trick. If you have numerous accounts receivable, it would be beneficial for you to consult with a business attorney.
In conclusion, the New Year is a chance to start over and a chance to improve. To take your business to the next level you will need help from several professionals. You can do it and you don’t have to it alone. “Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellors they are established.” Proverbs 15:22
Michael R. Plummer is a licensed attorney in Maryland. The purpose of this blog is to provide news and information on business and immigration law. This blog post is for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice.