Any experienced entrepreneur will tell you that without a legal foundation a startup is dead in the water. But it can be challenging to find a lawyer who can meet all your needs. It is equally difficult to know which stage of development a lawyer is needed. Consider these tips before seeking legal counsel.
Why Do I Need A Lawyer In the First Place?
Novice business owners are attracted to do-it-yourself sites like LegalZoom because they cut out the middle man. But the purpose of these sites is solely documentation. They give no guidance in what types of contracts or agreements a startup needs to get off the ground. But for any business at the formation state, guidance is precisely what you need. An experienced startup lawyer can foresee potential hang-ups that you would never be aware of. She can ensure your tax documentation is solid and that you’re following all government rules and regulation. She can spot any loose ends in vendor agreements or intellectual property contracts. A good lawyer can also make sure your partnership agreement is solid in the event of a future buyout or separation. Also, you might need direction in more practical early-stage decisions like whether to buy or rent a location and how to seek a loan.
When Is the Right Time to Hire?
During the launch is the most crucial time to gain legal counsel. In the early stages, a business is hiring employees, negotiating contracts with suppliers, forming licensing agreements, and creating in-house partnership agreements. Every bend in the road brings with it a slew of potential legal snags. Catching these early will save you time, money, and possibly your sanity. You shouldn’t rely on one lawyer to reach these goals. But the worst thing you could do is to wait until a problem arises to seek legal advice. The problems are sure to grow exponentially over time, which would lead to higher legal fees. It could also mean the demise of your company if no lawyer is willing to tackle late-stage problems.
How Do I Find the Right Lawyer for Me?
By nature, business owners are visionaries, risk-takers. You can’t get anywhere without being willing to put your money where your mouth is. Legal professionals, on the other hand, are risk-averse. This could work in your favor, but only if your lawyer understands the vision of your company and what risks you’re willing to take to keep that dream alive. When choosing a lawyer, consider expertise and personability. Both are extremely important factors when laying the groundwork on a new business venture.