Many home service contractors, like plumbers, roofers, electricians, and professionals who run independent firms, wonder if they really need legal services when starting their business.
For some business types like partnerships, LLCs, or corporations, legal services may be necessary to help you register your business with the state. Other business structures like sole proprietorships do not require you to register with the state — but that doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from an attorney’s help.
Regardless of whether legal services are required for your business, it is still helpful to contact an attorney to help you get started and ensure you’re taking the right steps forward. Here are some reasons why independent firms may need legal services and how an attorney can ease the startup processes.
Reasons you might need business legal services
Depending on your business structure, you'll have different tax advantages and disadvantages. This can be difficult to navigate on your own, so it helps to have a legal representative or a CPA to help sort out the details.
As a business owner, you have different protections and risks for your business. Having an attorney can help you avoid or minimize personal liabilities, reducing your risk of losing personal assets if your business does not do well.
When you're first getting on your feet as a business owner, you're going to need to raise money to fund your business. Involving an attorney in this process ensures both you and your investors are financially responsible and will help you avoid any difficult legal procedures.
If your business requires any trademarking or licensing, an attorney will need to be involved to help you through those procedures.
There are going to be contracts involved when working with clients. Your attorney will know exactly what to look for to ensure all parties are protected and there are no gaps in the terms.
At some point, you may decide it’s best to lease or buy an office space, so it’s important to have your attorney review the agreements before signing your name.
You never know what problems may arise, and having an attorney by your side can take the worry off your back. If there are lawsuits, issues with employees, or uncertainty about partnerships, an attorney can help you handle these things securely and effectively.
Where to find legal services
Finding small business legal services can be difficult, especially ones who fit your needs. When looking for attorneys and law firms, try to find ones that specialize in your industry or small businesses. Here are some common places where you can find legal services:
Online Forums - Small business forums and message boards are a great place to get firsthand recommendations from other small business owners who have already gone through this process.
U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) – The SBA is a great resource for all your small business needs, including legal advice. You can type your issue into their search box and get results that lead you in the right direction.
U.S. Department of Justice – The Department of Justice’s website has a list of lawyers in each state, many of whom specialize in small business.
LawDepot - LawDepot allows you to print and download customizable legal documents for a multitude of occasions, including forms and contracts you'll need as a small business owner.
Nolo - If you need help finding a lawyer or want to create your own legal documents, Nolo is a great resource. They’ll match you with a lawyer who can best handle your needs, or you can buy their software, which will help you take care of your legal needs yourself.
Questions to ask a prospective business attorney
What experience do you have with my industry? - There may be specific contracts or agreements your industry utilizes, or experiences only people working in your industry encounter. It’s important to ask the attorney if they are familiar with these things and are experienced enough to help you with confidence. If not, it might be best to ask for a referral.
Would there be a conflict of interest? - Ask the attorney if there will be any conflicts in working with your business, as they may be working with former employees/partners or competing businesses.
Is there anyone who will handle my work? - Some attorneys may have other professionals, such as paralegals, assume some of the work. The attorney also might take extra time to review things, especially if they’re not as experienced in the industry. Time is money, so be sure to ask this when meeting with potential attorneys.
What is your communication style? - Not every attorney will communicate with clients in the same way. Check with prospectives on how they prefer to communicate with you (e.g., phone, email, text).
How do you bill clients? - A few things to ask when discussing billing are whether or not there is a flat-rate or per-hour charge, if there are fees for initial consultations, and if there are any ways to save on overall costs.
Deciding whether or not your business should use legal services can add stress to the startup process. If you’re looking for guidance, MyDreamBridge is here to help. We offer all the resources and support you need in our 6-Weeks-to-Launch Accelerator Program. Contact us here to learn more information about how we can help.
For more information and resources for aspiring solopreneurs and small business owners, head on over to www.mydreambridge.com.