How to Use Your Business Lawyer
In her book, A Legal Road Map for Consultants
(The Oasis Press/PSI Research), attorney Judy Gedge reminds practitioners that they can turn to their business lawyers to address even the legal concerns that are simply facts of daily practice. Although Gedge encourages consultants to have a general understanding of the legal matters affecting them, she recommends they use their lawyers for the following:
- Preparation of standard form contracts. If there are contracts that you use on a regular basis, ask your lawyer to provide you with a standard form contract tailored for your use. These include consulting agreements, independent contractor agreements, and employment agreements. But remember that it is only a form and you'll need to consult with your lawyer if there is any unusual aspect of the transaction that may need to be specifically addressed.
- Assistance in negotiating contracts. You may run into difficulties in negotiating the terms of a transaction. Perhaps your potential landlord is requiring you to personally guarantee the lease, and you are unwilling to do so. There may be middle ground that both parties can live with, such as a guarantee of a limited dollar amount or of a limited duration. A good business lawyer can help you devise creative solutions to such disagreements.
- Leasing business premises. Make sure you have a lawyer review any lease before you sign it. That way your lawyer can check whether the agreement reflects your understanding of the business deal. Also, your lawyer can make suggestions to protect your interests under the lease.
- Financing. If you're taking out a bank loan or getting any other type of financing, you'll want your lawyer's assistance. While you are focused on the cash requirements of your business, your lawyer can help structure the transaction to protect your interests.
- Intellectual property. If you are creating materials such as software programs as part of your business, you will want to protect your property rights in those assets. This may require registering them for copyright protection with the federal Patent and Trademark Office. You will definitely need an experienced lawyer to help with this process. Patent and trademark law are specialized areas of legal practice. Your business lawyer can probably recommend a good patent and trademark lawyer to help you.