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Step 1: Make a List of Where You Need an Attorney’s Help
You will get the most value for money out of an attorney by being proactive rather than reactive. An attorney can help you with areas you lack expertise. Common areas where small businesses require the help of an attorney are:
A business lawyer can help you choose the type of business entity that is best for your company and file the necessary incorporation documents.
Raising venture capital
A business attorney will assist you in navigating the complex securities laws surrounding raising capital.
Founders agreements ensure that all partners understand their responsibilities and the splits of profits and resources throughout the partnership.
Drafting and reviewing contracts
An attorney can ensure your contracts protect your business and its interests. They will ensure the contracts are enforceable if someone breaks its stipulations.
A business lawyer can help prevent and quickly resolve any labor or employment disputes that may arise.
Protect intellectual property
An attorney can protect your company’s competitive advantage by ensuring your intellectual property is protected.
A business attorney will decrease the impact or prevent lawsuits from occurring in the first place. Don’t wait to be sued to hire a business lawyer.
At Nakase Wade — in everything that we do, we aim to be a beacon for our business clients – guiding them forward with a passionate resolve to reduce complexity and confusion, and replace it with clarity and confidence. We will listen to your company’s situations and we shoulder your burdens as our own until we can resolve them.
With the personal attention that defines our attorneys, we apply deep experience and knowledge with honest communication to help clients move forward and face challenges fearlessly. An unyielding commitment to our mission guides us and distinguishes our business attorneys as a different kind of law firm.
Step 2: Check Online Legal Directories to Find Lawyers That Specialize in Your Industry
Each industry is governed by its own sets of laws and practices. It is prudent to hire a business attorney with experience in your industry so they can spot any industry-specific legal issues.
Online legal directories will provide a list of business attorneys in your area and sort them by areas of specialization. Create a list of local law firms and research them to check what the reviews say about their work.
Alternatively, you could ask contacts in your industry to recommend a lawyer. As the referral is coming from a trusted source, you can be assured of the quality of work.
At Nakase Wade, our California business and corporate attorneys serve as a strategic partner for companies in these areas:
Step 3: Interview the Short Listed Lawyers to See If They Are a Good Fit
Business attorneys often provide free consultations so clients can meet them before hiring them. Use this free consultation for interviewing the attorney to see if they match your needs. Use these questions to learn about their experience and how they work with clients. It is also important that their personality fits with you; this will be a long-term business partnership, so you need someone who works well with you.
Here are some questions that will help you determine who is a good fit for your business:
Do You Have Experience Working With Small Businesses?
A small business lawyer is the most cost-effective for a startup. Business attorneys that work with big companies have big rates. Small business attorneys will be used to clients who are bootstrapping and will provide cost-effective defense options.
Attorneys will not be able to tell you the names of their clients or specific cases, but they will be able to tell you the size of businesses they have worked with.
Tell Me About Your Experience With XYZ Legal Issues
You have prepared a list of areas you need legal assistance, so check the attorney has experience in those areas. This can be areas you are currently struggling with or areas you believe you will struggle with in the future.
Are You Willing to Refer Other Specialist Attorneys If I Require Them?
You want to work with a business attorney who has a strong network and is willing to refer other lawyers if a problem arises that is outside their expertise.
Will Other People Work on My Business?
Business attorneys will often work on a number of cases at once and so will have other people in their team handling aspects of your case. Their team will include associates, law clerks, and paralegals. This is often a pro rather than a con as the time of law clerks and paralegals is less expensive than an attorney. Plus, it means your case gets more attention.
Is There Currently or Do You Foresee Any Conflicts of Interest?
If the business attorney specializes in your industry, they may already represent a competitor. If a dispute arises between you and your competitor, the attorney will not be able to represent you. Discuss your competitors and intended suppliers with the attorney to check if there is a conflict of interest.
How Do You Communicate With Clients?
Each attorney has a different way that they prefer to communicate with clients. Some like to email updates; others prefer to meet face to face or talk on the phone. Depending on your preferences and your business needs, certain communication methods may suit you better. For example, if you are busy and prefer efficiency, then email communication may suit you best. If, however, you need someone to walk you through and explain things in detail, then face to face might be best. If the attorney is not accommodating and patient or makes you feel uncomfortable in any way, don’t hire them.
What Is Your Fee Structure?
Attorneys with more experience often have higher fee structures, so it is important not to go with the cheapest business attorney you can find. However, you need to select an attorney that fits your budget.
Step 4: Negotiate Fees and Structure
Cost is extremely important, especially to small business owners and startups. Discuss fees and structures with your business attorney to find one that works for you. Attorneys will employ one of the following fee structures:
A flat fee means that a task will have a flat fee to complete rather than per hour. It helps you to budget, and there are no hidden costs.
Business attorneys will often employ flat fee rates for basic services and may even package up basic services to give a discount.
Litigation is often handled on a contingent fee, meaning the attorney will receive payment only if they win the case. Their fee is set as a percentage of your compensation, and therefore, contingent fees are often applied to cases where your business is suing for compensation or damages.
Attorneys will avoid using contingency fees if they believe there is a likelihood you will fire them midway through the case. This is because they do all the work upfront. Once you have a good working relationship, they will likely offer their services on a contingency basis.
This is rare as small businesses are likely to fail in their first years, but if your attorney believes you have a good business concept, they may consider this form of payment.
A retainer agreement means you pay for the business attorney to dedicate a certain amount of time each month to your business. Any work above the monthly retainer will be completed on a flat fee basis.
If you require regular assistance from a business attorney, then this is a beneficial agreement. It means that you will receive quick responses and can seek advice on things. Many small businesses will hire a business attorney on retainer in their first few years when they need help incorporating, writing contracts, and creating a strong legal foundation.
Step 5: Be Aware of What Requires the Help of an Attorney
The best way to keep your legal fees low is to be aware of what requires an attorneys help and what you can handle yourself. Asking for regular advice about things that you could research can result in legal bills adding up very quickly. The following list details things that are easy to handle with a little bit of research and do not need the help of a business attorney:
- Writing a business plan
- Selecting a domain name or business name
- Anything to do with taxes
- Applying for a business loan
- Applying for business licenses
- Filing formation papers
- Applying for an EIN
- Hiring independent contractors or employees
The things listed above could be handled by an accountant or done yourself. You should only consult with a business attorney if the above situations are complex.
By working with a business attorney, rather than hiring them just for litigation, you will save a lot of money long-term. Being proactive in protecting your company from legal claims will reduce the need for costly and time-consuming litigation.
Take the time to find an attorney that works best for your business. If you are not comfortable with a business attorney, then don’t hire them. Meet with as many attorneys as necessary until you find someone who you believe will work well with you and your business.
What does a Business Lawyer Do & What Does a Corporate Lawyer Do?
Business Lawyers Job Description
- Negotiating the terms of contracts, settlements, and transactions on behalf of all parties.
- Ensuring all business actions, strategies, and processes comply with local, state, federal, and international laws.
- Resolving legal disputes through researching and analyzing local laws, developing strong arguments, collecting evidence, and strong courtroom representation.
- Assisting business to prevent, navigate, and resolve complex legal issues.
- Managing multiple legal activities, clients, and cases with close attention to various deadlines.
- Drafting, reviewing, completing, and filing legal paperwork with close liaison with the clients.
- Analysis of business policies and operations and reporting any current or potential legal issues to the relevant
- Advising and assisting businesses who are establishing their company’s policies, objectives, structure, and procedures for operating their business.
- Ensuring the business understands all relevant laws and outcomes.
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Corporate Lawyers Job Description
Corporate lawyers have to be quick on their feet and deal with any issue that comes their way. They often meet with management and board members to offer legal and business advice, and to strategize. Other duties include:
- Negotiating employee contracts
- Formulating employee handbooks
- Reviewing new business relationships with subcontractors and vendors
- Structuring joint ventures with other businesses
- Drafting legal documents
- Administering training workshops
- Analyzing proposed products for any legal issues
- Supervising outside lawyers assisting with specialized legal needs
- Preparing and filing government reports
- Making sure managers comply with regulations
- Representing the corporation in court trials and before administrative boards
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Employment lawyers help with several issues that can arise in a diverse workplace. They can assist both employers and employees in interpreting the federal, state, and local employment laws that assure the fair treatment of employees.
Employment lawyers can counsel and represent clients on these issues:
- Employment benefits such as retirement plans, and leaves of absence
- Sexual harassment
- Termination of employment
- Wage and overtime standards
- Workplace safety
- Discrimination against protected like medical conditions, race, religion, sex, national origin, age, marital status, ancestry, disability, skin color, creed, or sexual orientation
- Workers’ compensation
- Privacy Rights
Employment lawyers can also review employment contracts and advise their clients about their employment rights. They can mediate between employers and employees, recommend legal action, and represent employers in lawsuits. Also, an employment attorney can represent your business in state or federal court, or in front of a government administrative board.
We are masters of preventive lawyering, providing your business with a strong foundation of contracts, policies, and procedures which minimize conflict and therefore lawsuits with your employees. We also ensure your business always complies with federal, state, and local laws.
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The incorporation process is complex, and this prevents many people from taking the step of starting their own corporation. However, incorporating has many benefits such as tax savings and liability protection.
As corporation attorneys, we explain the benefits of incorporating a business, and the different corporate structures available to businesses. When a client is ready, we will walk them through incorporating their business. We can also help with managing their annual corporate records to make the process effective and straight forward.
Affordable Small Business Lawyer, Free Consultation
Many small business owners wrongly assume that a business lawyer will cost an arm and a leg, and therefore will only hire one when they have a serious legal problem. Hiring a business lawyer will usually save you money in the long run as they can help you to put processes in place to ensure you don’t have serious legal problems in the first place.
When your business runs into problems like the following, it is wise to hire a business lawyer:
- Your business is involved in an environmental issue, even if your business did not cause it
- You are negotiating the sale of your company
- You are negotiating the acquisition of another company or its assets
- Your business is being investigated or have claims filed by a local, state, or federal entity
- You want to allocate your profits or losses or contribute appreciated property to your LLC or partnership agreement
- Employees are suing based on hostile work environment or discrimination during hiring or firing
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If you need to file a legal claim or defend your business against one, you need a litigation attorney. They represent you and your business in the courtroom, but their job isn’t as glamorous as the movies might suggest. If someone sues you, you need to speak to a litigation attorney rather than trying to defend yourself against the claim. Here are some other examples of when you need to hire a litigation attorney:
- Professional disputes within your business
- Wrongful termination due to discrimination
- An employee suing you for discrimination
- Settling a past debt
- An ex-partner or spouse not paying financial support
- Being injured in an accident
You can also seek the counsel of a litigation attorney for legal advice or assistance in mediating a disagreement. Litigation lawyers have several tools available that can help avoid a lawsuit, or put you in the best position if one is filed.
Employer Defense Lawyers
No matter the size of their companies, all employers can face lawsuits that may cause loss of goodwill and financial liability. Our expert attorneys defend California employers against employee lawsuits and federal enforcement proceedings.
Even with preventative measures in place, there are bound to be disputes with employees. Disputes can cause negative press and costly disruptions to business, even if they are false claims.
An employment lawyer can help you navigate the tricky situation and help you resolve it before it gets blown out of proportion. The best approach is not to go on the offensive, but to seek an employment attorneys assistance in mediating between you and your employee. It is important to be the sort of employer who listens to their employees and makes them feel like they can bring issues to your attention without retaliation.
However, there is a thin line that needs to be walked in these situations. You need to protect your business, and you have shareholders and other employees to answer to.
Business Defense Lawyers
We have extensive experience in commercial and business law. We have represented clients in state and federal court for several lawsuits, protecting them from up to multimillion-dollar claims.
The first thing our lawyers do when they are brought in is to assess the risks involved in and surrounding the case. From there, we methodically work on cost-effective solutions and recommendations. We provide practical advice and aggressive representation for all of our clients, no matter the lawsuit.
Our law firm is smaller and more nimble than most in California, meaning we have more time and energy to devote to our clients. Every member of our team has received recognition for their talents and humanity.
We can help you with business disputes such as:
- Contract disputes
- Insurance law
- Real estate
We can handle sensitive topics like business divorce, liability claims, and multimillion-dollar shareholder disputes. Our attorneys are extremely responsive and effective communicators who will take the time to ensure you fully understand the issues at hand. Knowing that our talented employment lawyers are on the case will allow you to focus on operations.
Business Litigation Lawyers
If negotiation and arbitration haven’t resolved your dispute, then hiring a business litigation attorney is a good option.
No matter the cause of your dispute, we have extensive experience to your case. We will gather evidence thoroughly and represent you in court aggressively.
Derivative Action Defense Lawyers
A shareholder expects management and the board of directors will always act in the best interest of the shareholders. A failure to act in shareholders best interests breaches fiduciary duty which means that shareholders could take legal action. This legal action is called derivative action.
Derivative action exists to stop managers and boards from acting in their own best interests with self-dealing and self-interested transactions. They can be very complex lawsuits and require quick action, but an experienced lawyer will have the skill to effectively defend your company and resolve the case.
Class Action Defense Lawyer
Class action lawsuits can be difficult for a company, but our lawyers will quickly assess the class action case and aggressively defend and attack it.
We will give you honest advice after understanding all the details of the case. If it is in your best interest to negotiate a settlement, we will assist you to do that. We have successfully navigated class actions which involve millions of electronic documents in the discovery.
We take complex technical, scientific, and multi-jurisdictional issues in our stride and work closely with our clients to resolve the case in the best possible way for your business.
Labor Law Lawyers
No matter how careful you are, you will occasionally need help from a lawyer. Although some employment matters are easy to handle on your own, other issues are very tricky and need legal expertise.
Employment laws change often; the courts and government agencies issue new interpretations every single day, sometimes completely changing the previous interpretation of the law. Lawsuits from employees can be very costly, so it is best to seek legal expertise when you get in over your head.
Corporate Restructuring Lawyers
Restructuring is a distressing time, full of many decisions and emotions. Our corporate restructuring lawyers will allow you to properly position yourself for your business’s future.
We can represent these parties in a corporate restructuring:
- Boards of directors
No matter the restructuring transaction, we can give you expert legal advice. We take special care in avoiding and reducing the adverse effects of liquidation through contingency planning and liability management.
Corporate Governance Lawyers
As corporate governance lawyers, we essentially work as crisis counselor to our corporate clients as they navigate high profile and high-risk scenarios. We assist with shareholder communication, best practices, and regulation, etc.
We counsel board members regularly, as well as senior executives, and the full board of directions so they can understand the corporate governance issues they face. Some of the common issues we work on are:
- Board and board committee self-evaluation and evaluation processes
- Risk identification and risk management for the enterprise
- Senior executive and director succession planning
- Reviewing and updating charters and by-laws as best practices and trends evolve
- Board structuring and composition
- Board committee structure and composition
- Senior executive and director compensation planning and policies
- Board committee charters
- Duties of an independent lead director or independent board chair
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