Many people and businesses view lawyers as a reactionary thing. Something goes wrong and you’re in over your head? That is when you call a lawyer. But when your business is growing or just starting out, profits are rolling in, and you are hiring employees left and right, it is harder to believe and understand why a lawyer is important.
There are definitely times when a lawyer is not necessary, but other times you might not have thought of that are quite important to have a lawyer for. Below are some of the main reasons and situations why hiring a lawyer for your business is a good idea.
To prevent being sued
Hiring a lawyer for your business is often in response to a problem. For businesses, the problem is often getting sued. Whether it’s a contract violation, a wronged employee, or a product malfunction, there will always be problems that could have been prevented if caught soon enough. The problem is, obviously, catching them before you’re having to commit to a huge payout, and end up cutting large losses to the company.
Hiring a lawyer won’t automatically mean you won’t be sued, but they can absolutely help prevent it as much as possible. For example, lawyers can help review your current and existing contracts, write up new ones, and generally help with minimising problems before they become bigger ones. They can also help as an unbiased third party with employee mediations.
Or, to deal with a lawsuit
The more common reason for a lawyer is when you’ve already been sued, and you aren’t sure how to proceed. Once the lawsuit is in place, however, a lawyer won’t be able to help much with the initial problem. They’ll only be able to help you going forward with lowering your court fees and helping you resolve the issue going forward. You’ll definitely need one to help you with filing your case or communicating with the other party.
Mergers and acquisitions
Growing or changing your company by signing on to merge, acquire, or be acquired by a sister company is a complicated move. Merging stocks or buying shares, along with negotiating and executing the deal, are all part of merging two companies. Lawyers will be a liaison between the two companies to ensure the deal is fair for both parties. You can even find lawyers who are specifically trained to help with mergers and acquisitions, like these commercial business lawyers in Hamilton.
We most likely all know the saying, “read the fine print”, and the reasoning behind it. Contracts are incredibly detailed, complicated, and more importantly, long and arduous to read through. They can also back you up against a bad deal if written properly, or be turned against you if you didn’t read the fine print yourself.
Contracts need to define how, when and how much you or the client will get paid. They also define what rights you as the company have, and any rights the employee, client, or supplier has as well. If these details aren’t written in the contract, your new partner may be able to exploit you later.
Contracts also often contain how disputes are to be handled, which can save you from being sued or have other legal ramifications later, since you’ve already said the dispute has to be handled a specific way. Even contracts with new employees may require a lawyer to help you adhere to the employment laws for your area and make sure you’re adhering to tax codes. Take a look at the New Zealand government website on employment contracts for more information.
Any employment law issues
When things go sour with an employee, it’s important you have a lawyer to sort through the case material with you. Lawsuits about discrimination, unfair treatment, or retaliation are some of the common employment law related issues that businesses face.
The communication and negotiation between employees and employer can cause a lot of tension and eventually break down any trust there once was. Lawyers will mediate between the two parties, as well as try to repair any relationships if applicable. You can also use professional mediators if your need is a simpler altercation that you want to find a resolution for, before you need to move to a lawyer.
Unless you are a tax expert, you’re probably going to need someone to go through your business to make sure your profits are being taxed appropriately, as well as taxing your employees correctly. If you’re a small business, this is even more important for you, because you will probably need help determining the best business structure for you, i.e. an LLC or sole proprietorship. Start educating yourself on the business structures by visiting this website.
All in all, how do you know if you actually need a lawyer for your business? If you’re an established company with a good balance of debt and profit and you aren’t going through intense growth or hiring at the moment, you’ve probably hit your stride in the market and are at low risk for any of the situations we’ve mentioned above.
Conversely, if your company is going through some setbacks and losing profit, hiring a lawyer on top of that may set your company back even further. In these situations, you’ll want to weigh your risk versus profit loss ratio carefully, and be willing to take that leap if you feel like a lawyer can keep your business safe throughout the period of change and risk.
Remember that no matter what the state of your business is, you as a business need to be prepared for the worst. Consider sending yourself and any other key players to business law courses to keep yourself up to speed. You may actually be able to mitigate future issues without hiring a lawyer if you and your staff are confident with these sensitive issues. Even more important, you’ll have the knowledge to know when things are over your expertise level, and be able to get the help you need before things get out of hand.