What Does a Business Lawyer Do?

A business lawyer provides legal services and educates companies on legal matters, including litigation, best practices, applicable laws, creating legal documents, business formation, conflict resolution, business dealings, business transactions, and best business practices.

Author: Brad Nakase, Attorney

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Business attorneys (another way of saying lawyer) often have to be well-rounded and able to use many different skills to represent their clients. For example, they must be able to review contracts, consult business owners, make complex deals, or, sometimes, take matters to court. But there is much more that business lawyers do. The most important overall job of a business lawyer is to help business owners solve problems, both current issues and ones that might come up in the future.

In this article, our California business attorney discusses what business lawyers do as follows:

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Business Formation / Starting a Business

When a business owner first establishes his company, he might have trouble choosing what type of business to become. Should the company, for example, be an LLC? Or should it incorporate? This is a big decision and can be very expensive to fix down the road. If hired, a business lawyer can help a new business owner make the correct choice for his business.

Example: Bjørn has just started a think tank that does investigative journalism. He himself is a former journalist and doesn’t understand much about the business world. His partner has suggested becoming a limited liability company, but Bjørn is not sure what consequences this might have down the road. He suggests that they hire a business lawyer to walk them through the different types of business and help them choose the appropriate type for their company.

Business Legal Compliance

Legal compliance is the process by which a business adheres to the law, policies and procedures regulated by the state and federal government.  A business attorney advises entrepreneurs and companies to comply with regulations and statutes.

Draft and Review Contracts

A business lawyer can also help with writing contracts. Owning a business involves a lot of forms and paperwork, including when hiring employees or signing a new client. A business lawyer can help draft these documents and make sure they include the appropriate material.

Example: Sully has just started a real estate investment company and can’t wait to hire employees to work at his sleek new office. He sits down at his computer to draft an employment contract but doesn’t know how to proceed. He tries googling examples of contracts, but he’s worried that none of the samples will apply to his specific business. He also worries about the consequences of having a poorly constructed contract. What if he gets sued? To play it safe, Sully hires a business lawyer to draft his employment contract.

Litigating Business Disputes

Business lawyers are familiar with handling disputed contracts and breaches of contract, as well. Perhaps a client is not paying what is owed, or an employee has violated his contract by sharing trade secrets. A business lawyer will advocate on behalf of the business owner and even take matters to court if necessary.

Example: Theodora runs a tech company in Redondo Beach, which is responsible for creating artificial intelligence and robots. She is frustrated to learn that one of her former employees has violated the terms of his employment contract by sharing trade secrets with a competitor. She hires a business lawyer to advocate on her behalf and take the matter to court.

Merger & Acquisitions (M&A)

When it comes to mergers and acquisitions, a business lawyer is also valuable. A merger is when one business combines with another. An acquisition is when one business buys out another. Both of these processes are very complex and expensive, and it is necessary to have an experiences business lawyer guide an owner through the process.

Example: Boris’ tech company BioKinetic has grown powerful enough that he would like to absorb a smaller competitor, GreenBot. However, GreenBot is not making the acquisition easy, asking for a hefty sum and various assurances. Boris wants to make sure he gets this deal done, so he hires a business lawyer to make the acquisition.

Advise Employers and HR

A business lawyer can also resolve employment law issues and claims that would be a headache for the company’s owner. Even a well-prepared business owner can run into problems related to sick leave, discrimination, workplace safety, and sexual harassment. A business lawyer can keep an owner up to date and educated on laws and good practices and can represent an owner when an issue comes up.

Example: Jonah owns a cosmetic business. He takes the issue of sexual harassment very seriously, and he is devastated to learn that one of his managers has been sending unwanted explicit photos to a store associate. The store associate has hired a lawyer and is threatening a lawsuit against Jonah. Jonah hires a business lawyer who not only represents him in the court case, but also helps Jonah educate his staff on sexual harassment and institute a new company policy.

Risks Management

When it comes to compliance and risk management, a business lawyer is an asset to business owners. Fluent in the relevant laws and codes, a business attorney can ensure that a business complies with statutes and regulations, thus minimizing risk.

Example: Ezra is the CEO of a chemical company. The nature of his business means that his factories produce toxic waste. The local government has rules about how much waste companies can dump into rivers. Ezra wants to make sure his company is compliant, so he hires a business lawyer with a specialty in environmental law.

Real Estate Transactions and Disputes Resolution

A business lawyer is even able to manage real estate. If a business owns property or leases it, a business attorney can help negotiate sales and leases. They are familiar with complex real estate and tenant laws and can streamline the process for a business owner.

Example: Edwina has owned a successful psychic and crystal shop for a few years. She would like to expand her business by leasing a second property. Unsure of local real estate laws and wary of getting a good deal, Edwina hires a business lawyer to help negotiate the lease.

That’s a lot of services!

Is it worth hiring a lawyer for your business?

The answer is absolutely. While it is tempting to save the money and handle issues yourself, even seemingly minor issues can be incredibly complex. Not only are they difficult to solve, but also expensive and time-consuming. A good business lawyer can manage these matters, leaving a business owner to deal with what he really cares about – the running and managing of the business he created.

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