Santa Barbara
74° F
Santa Maria
69° F
San Luis Obispo
67° F
69° F

Why every small business needs a good lawyer

Published On: Aug 15 2013 10:15:51 AM CDT


By Joe Chase, Special to THELAW.TV

Business owners are busy people. Their days are filled with attracting new customers, keeping existing customers happy, and finding and retaining talented employees. Small businesses, particularly those just getting off the ground, usually also have tight budgets.

Often lost in this hectic mix is the need to pay attention to legal issues relevant to any business. It is a mistake for small business owners to give in to the temptation of putting off dealing with legal issues until their companies are larger or only when problems arise.

Entrepreneurs can often save themselves a great deal of money and aggravation by dealing with these issues from day one. Getting appropriate legal advice up front can, among other things, help protect a company against expensive lawsuits brought by employees, customers, suppliers and other parties; help protect a company's intellectual property and other proprietary information; and, ultimately, make a potential future sale of the business relatively painless.

Quality legal advice does not need to be expensive. Many of the legal choices that a small business needs to make, and many of the documents that a small business should have in place, can be prepared quite efficiently. A good business lawyer can help a small business owner "triage" his or her needs to get the most bang for a limited legal budget.

In particular, a business lawyer at a good full-service law firm can have much to offer to a small business. A full-service firm will have experienced professionals in most of the areas of practice relevant to a small business. For example, business lawyers deal day in and day out with, among other things, drafting and negotiating contracts, structuring business entities, and issues relating to how business entities are controlled and managed -- in other words, they are not litigators. But, should a lawsuit arise, a lot less time will be spent laying the groundwork for the litigation if the litigator handling the case has a close working relationship with the company's business lawyer -- all the better for a small business' bottom line. Even if the business lawyer's firm does not have an attorney with the necessary skillset, by virtue of working with a variety of sophisticated clients, day in and day out, a good full-service law firm will have relationships with lawyers outside of the firm who have proven themselves capable in the areas of law that are important to businesses.

Although regional full-service law firms may be more expensive than individual lawyers in general practice, the small business owner who develops a relationship with the right business lawyer at a regional full-service firm can receive the legal assistance he or she needs at a reasonable price.

That said, there are plenty of business lawyers who work as solo practitioners or in smaller firms who have developed networks of lawyers outside of their firms that allow them to help their clients with problems involving various areas of legal practice. These lawyers often primarily represent small businesses and can be very in-tune with the needs of small businesses. However, small business owners should be wary of solo practitioners who claim to be "Jacks of all trades." Legal practice becomes increasingly specialized with each passing year, and a lawyer who truly believes he or she is capable of handling every matter faced by a small business likely does not "know what he or she does not know."

As most experienced lawyers will readily tell you, the most dangerous thing for a lawyer is not being able to readily identify matters that are beyond his or her expertise. That is, the most effective business lawyers -- whether or not they are members of full-service firms -- are those who recognize when a particular issue goes beyond their own skill-set and requires the help of a lawyer in a particular area of law.

So, what are the legal issues every small business should address? Stay tuned: future articles in this series will cover the key issues entrepreneurs should consider sooner, rather than face the cost and aggravation of considering them later.

The author, Joe Chase, is an attorney at Gunster, Yoakley & Stewart, P.A., "Florida’s Law Firm For Business."


The views expressed are not those of this company or its affiliated companies. Please note by clicking on "Post" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms Of Service and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. 
blog comments powered by Disqus
  • Body of Isaiah Sanchez Recovered at Cachuma Lake

    Santa Barbara County sheriff rescue crews have found a body near the place where Isaiah Sanchez went missing.

  • Ellwood Fire

    Explosion at Goleta Apartment Complex Leaves One Man Hospitalized

    Santa Barbara County Fire crews responded to an explosion and fire at an apartment complex on 447 Ellwood Drive in Goleta.   Fire officials received the call at around 7:00 p.m. One person was injured and taken to the hospital with severe burns.  The apartment manager helped put out a small fire that broke out after the blast. The explosion and fire are still under investigation.  The fire did not spread to any adjoining apartments.

  • dangerous dogs

    Orcutt Family Starts Petition to Change County Ordinance

    An Orcutt family is fighting to keep their dogs from being euthanized, and is now trying to change a county ordinance on aggressive dogs. The family has an online petition spreading their message on the internet in an effort to get the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisor's attention.

    Peggy Henning remembers the day her family welcomed Daisy and Duke into their family like it was yesterday.

    "They immediately just became part of the family," said Henning. "They were very friendly with all the guests we had coming over."

    But things changed when Daisy and Duke got loose. They liked chasing cats.

    "Dogs are pack animals and that is their default instinct," said Henning. "If they are bonded or litter mates, it intensifies that. They would get out of the confines of our house or yard and this instinct would come to the surface."

  • Santa Paula Reserve Police Officer Resigns After Posting Video About Bicyclists

    Volunteer posted a YouTube video joking about running over bicyclists.

  • Juvenile Hall Court to Host Gang-related Murder Trial

    The so-called "U-Haul murder trial" is expected to be another high security, gang-related trial that requires extra time and money to make it work at the Santa Barbara County Juvenile Hall courtroom which is seen as the most practical venue.

  • Stone Named Interim Head Football Coach for Dons

    JT Stone Will Serve as Interim Head Football Coach at Santa Barbara High School

    Stone has 14 years of coaching experience at the youth and high school level.

  • Explosion Caused By Man Producing Marijuana Oil

    Explosion Caused By Man Producing Marijuana Oil

    Investigators said the Goleta apartment explosion and fire Monday night was caused by the illegal process of making butane honey oil.

  • IV meeting Interview

    Town Hall Meeting in Isla Vista Aims to Unite Community

    The UC Santa Barbara Associated Students hosted a Town Hall Meeting to help open the dialogue between the different community members in the diverse college town. Over 200 people attended the meeting, including college students, full-time residents, business owners, UCSB faculty members and several key local political figures. Interview with Ali Guthy, President of the Associated Students at UCSB. 

  • Slideshow: Rescue Crews Find Body In Cachuma Lake

    Santa Barbara County sheriff rescue crews have found a body near the place where Isaiah Sanchez went missing.

  • Slideshow: Blondes VS Brunettes Charity Football Game

    A charity football game at the Polo fields in Carpinteria pits the Blondes vs Brunettes. The all-women football teams duked it out on Saturday to raise funds for the Alzheimer's Association. Both teams fought fiercely but in the end, only one came out the victor.

    Photography by Oscar Flores.