Business Law

Business law includes everything from incorporation and taxes to registration requirements and compliance, bankruptcy, and litigation. A general business attorney will be able to guide your business in the right direction, helping you file the necessary licenses and permits needed to start a new business in your state. If you have specific legal needs, a business lawyer can refer you to a corporate law firm specializing in different types of business law.

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Aug 9, 2021

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Overview

  • Business law includes many areas of law spanning different legal matters, all related to business
  • Business law includes tax, intellectual property, employment, non-profit, and compliance laws
  • Business lawyers generally help with broad guidance or specific issues so you may need to have more than one attorney on retainer, depending on your needs.

Business law encompasses legal matters at every level: federal, local, and state laws. Balancing these differences may require multiple business lawyers who specialize in different areas of the law. If you’re encountering trouble with a tax agency, considering bankruptcy, negotiating a new hire, or any other business-related matter, a skilled business lawyer may be just the help you need.

From organizing your business structure to the legal regulations determining how and where you can operate your business, business attorneys can protect your best interests and ensure that you make the right decisions for your business.

The most difficult part of business law is the different regulations. Keep reading to learn more about business law and where to find an affordable business law firm near you.

Having a trusted legal advisor just a phone call away gives you peace of mind that your questions will get answered quickly and accurately. Find an experienced financial law attorney in your area using our free legal. Enter your ZIP code above to get started.

What does a business lawyer do?

Business lawyers tend to specialize in different areas of business law but are most commonly grouped into two larger areas: transactional and litigation law.

Business lawyers who specialize in transactional law guide you through the process of establishing your business, making sure that you file the correct licenses and permits needed to start a new business in your city, and pay any required fees. Transactional business lawyers may also help you manage your business’ day-to-day operations, like signing contracts and hiring employees.

A business attorney will make sure that your business complies with all local and federal regulations so you do not run afoul of any laws that could lead to costly litigation.

Business litigation lawyers tend to pick up where the transactional attorney left off. For example, if your business contracts are in dispute or another company alleges you breached the contract, a business litigation attorney will advocate for you.

How can a business lawyer help you?

Your business attorney may help you with countless other legal matters, including:

  • Drafting initial corporation paperwork
  • Drafting contracts
  • Reviewing contracts
  • Guiding you through complex business decisions
  • Taxes
  • Mergers and acquisitions
  • Employment law compliance
  • Business law compliance
  • Commercial law compliance

If you’re looking for reasons why you should hire a business attorney, consider when you’re most likely to need legal guidance. Typically, owners should hire a lawyer when starting a business, drafting business agreements and contracts, handling complex transactions, and when taking preemptive measures to avoid litigation in the future.

Starting a Business

Every new business has to comply with certain federal, state, and local laws. Even if a business is originally set up as a sole proprietorship where there is no formal business registration, there are still tax implications and potential liability issues that must be considered.

There are several common types of business structures you could choose from and an attorney can help you pick the best structure for your business needs, including:

  • Corporation
  • Limited liability company (LLC)
  • General Partnership
  • Limited Partnership

For example, when forming a corporation structured under the laws of your state, a business lawyer will make sure you choose the right type of business structure, pick out an appropriate and available company name, and file all of the appropriate paperwork to legally start your business.

The type of business formation you choose will impact your taxation type and process. It’s a complex decision that is difficult to change. It’s vital that you work with a trusted business lawyer to help you make the right decision the first time. A minor mistake could easily derail the approval of your business formation paperwork, leaving you with costly delays.

Understanding Business Law vs. Commercial Law

Your business is up and running and you are selling your items. Now you are getting into some commercial law topics, something a business lawyer will be able to guide you through.

Here are some common business and commercial law terms you may need to familiarize yourself with as your business grows:

  • Negotiable instrument: This is a check or contract that promises a buyer will pay you a certain amount at a certain time for your product or service
  • Merger: When your company absorbs is absorbed by another company
  • Acquisition: When your company gets a controlling interest in another company, or another company gains a controlling interest in your company
  • Security: A financial asset provided to ensure a debt is fulfilled

Commercial law and business law overlap a great deal. Commercial law focuses on the sale and distribution of what your business sells or provides as a service to customers. This may also include the financing of your customer’s purchases.

Both business and commercial law are regulated at the federal, state, and local levels, but commercial laws are primarily regulated by the federal government under the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC). The UCC is a set of laws that govern the sale and purchase of goods and services. Every state has adopted the UCC in some form, but requirements and regulations can vary by state. It’s vital that you work with a local business attorney who can help you understand how the UCC applies in your state.

Drafting Business Agreements and Contracts

When you set up a new business, you will draft your fair share of agreements and contracts with partners, employees, and investors. Certain business formation documents may also be required with your state business application when you register your business.

For example, if you are starting a business with someone else and creating a partnership, you will need a partnership agreement clearly stating the rights and responsibilities of each partner and describing how the partnership will end if one person dies or wants to leave.

Another example is an LLC operating agreement. This business agreement will need to specify how the company is managed. An LLC operating agreement must be drafted with extreme care because it is a form of business ownership that reduces personal liability. If the document is not drafted correctly, it could negate the protections normally provided by an LLC business structure.

Most new business owners want to shield themselves from liability as much as possible. If you choose to not limit your liability, that means you could be personally responsible for any business mistakes and for any lawsuits against your business. You can avoid this situation by partnering with a skilled business attorney who can help you set up a business that does not risk your personal assets.

When you have a seasoned business attorney working with you, they can help to structure transactions and contracts in such a way that it limits your liability and potential for litigation. While nothing is perfect and no lawyer can prevent another person or company from suing you, well-structured business transactions and contracts will make sure that, if someone sues you, you have solid footing to rebut their claims and potentially even collect fees for your trouble.

The most common example of providing companies with benefits in their transactions is internet commerce. When a customer buys something online, they agree to certain terms and conditions. Within those terms and conditions, which is a valid and enforceable contract, are details about a dispute process. Usually, the customer agrees to dispute resolution that is favorable to your company, may require that the customer travel to your city, regardless of where they live and may require that a mediator or arbitrator’s decision is binding. In other words, your lawyer has drafted a contract that will effectively eliminate any chance of going to court, even if your company is in the wrong.

Handling Complex Transactions

Once your business is set up, your legal worries do not go away. You may need to hire employees, work with vendors, and hire services to help your business operate efficiently and profitably. Some industries are more regulated than others, but your business lawyer can help you understand these regulations and the steps you need to take to ensure that you remain compliant in all commercial transactions, especially if you are dealing with securities or internet commerce.

For many business owners, their company is their baby, it’s their passion, and business decisions can often become emotional decisions, even when a business owner tries to remain calm during a negotiation or transaction. A business lawyer has no ownership interest and can remain truly objective while still advocating for your best interests. They can spot issues you may have overlooked and pivot the conversation to more business-centric matters.

Many new business owners want to get through these legal headaches as quickly as possible and just get to running their business. It’s much cheaper and faster to hire a business lawyer to help with these complex transactions now rather than later.

Taking Preemptive Measures to Avoid Litigation

Are you trying to proactively prevent legal issues from arising or are you responding to existing legal matters? The best way to prevent legal issues is to invest in and establish preventative procedures right at the beginning. By the time your business is sued, the damage is done.

Let’s assume you have an employee who has filed a lawsuit against your company claiming sexual harassment by a manager. Without any legal support in place, you will need to scramble and hire a business litigation attorney to defend your company and attempt to reach a suitable resolution.

However, you may have been able to prevent this lawsuit if you had consulted with a business lawyer earlier. They may have advised you to develop the proper training procedures, preventative measures, and hiring processes to help your business avoid even the appearance of sexual discrimination and harassment and any costly and embarrassing lawsuits.

There are countless ways businesses can find themselves in costly and time-consuming litigation. From employee lawsuits to business deals gone bad, business litigation lawyers are very busy people. A small investment early on when starting your business can save your company large sums of money and save you sleepless nights. The right business lawyer at your side from the start may be just what you need to avoid costly litigation down the road.

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When should I hire a business lawyer?

If you are facing litigation, hiring a business lawyer is in your best interest. Litigating business issues is a complex and costly process. Even with something seemingly simple like a dispute between your company and a single customer, you could quickly rack up lots of billable hours at hearings and trials. A litigation-focused corporate lawyer will step in on your behalf when you are facing a lawsuit or if your business is otherwise in legal hot water.

There are different types of business law. If your company is already facing legal problems and you do not have a relationship with a business lawyer, you need to pinpoint your specific legal needs and speak with a business attorney specializing in that niche area of business law.

For example, if you have employment issues, you will need to speak with an employment attorney; if you face an audit, you will want to call a tax lawyer who specializes in IRS tax law and offers in compromise. They can negotiate with the IRS to help businesses like yours get the best resolution possible. Understanding the issues you face and the questions you have can help you narrow down the area of corporate law you need help in and whether you need transactional or litigation guidance.

In extreme cases, business owners may even consider filing bankruptcy. If your company is facing the end, you need a lawyer who specializes in business bankruptcy. You have legal rights and protections available in bankruptcy so you should take advantage of them to do what you can to keep your personal assets safe.

How to Find a Business Lawyer Near You

Finding the right corporate law firm for your legal needs may seem overwhelming at first, but it does not need to be an excruciating experience. Once you have determined the area of business law that your legal questions fall under, speak with a local business attorney who specializes in that field or ask them to refer you to a lawyer who does.

No matter what legal issue you face, there are key questions to ask an attorney before hiring them to determine their level of expertise. While every lawyer needs to start somewhere, you want someone with some experience under their belt. Asking some variation of these questions can help you determine whether this lawyer is right for you:

  • Where did you earn your business law degree?
  • What area of business law do you specialize in?
  • How many years of experience do you have doing just this area of law?
  • Have you taken any cases to trial?
  • Do you have time to take my case?
  • Can I speak with any past clients?

Business law affects countless areas of your company and can be proactive or reactive. Business lawyers specialize in unique areas of the law and sometimes there is overlap. Giving a lawyer specific facts about your business’s legal issues will help them determine how they can best assist you. Fortunately, if one lawyer cannot help you, they can often recommend you to an attorney who can.

Before you hire an attorney, make sure you feel comfortable enough to speak candidly with your lawyer. This person will get to know you, your business, and your business operations better than almost anyone. They will see all of your finances and know all of your mistakes. But they are there to guide you through problems and help you find a suitable outcome. You need to trust them and you need to feel comfortable that they have your best interests at heart. If your gut tells you something just is not right, find someone else.

Business matters are not legal issues to mess around with. Whether you need to react to a lawsuit or you want to take proactive steps to avoid litigation, you have legal options. To help you protect your rights, use our free legal tool to find an experienced corporate law attorney in your area. Enter your ZIP code below to get started.

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