SMALL BUSINESS LAW
Regular, affordable access to a small business attorney can save business owners both time and money. Since our founding over 20 years ago, our philosophy centers on early intervention to prevent expensive problems later. We offer a range of legal services that can help your business thrive: reviewing your contracts, your employment policies, your company structure, your trademark practices, and your prospective real estate transactions. In other words, we help you “mind your business”. Our goal is to provide proactive legal solutions that prevent costly legal controversies down the line.
While the federal government classifies a small business as having 500 or fewer employees, our focus lies on a more intimate scale — Our firm focuses our small business legal services on the needs of businesses with 1 to 10 owners. Our typical clients are individuals, married couples, groups of friends, or families, all of whom share a common entrepreneurial aspiration to establish and manage a thriving enterprise.
Most of our clients have been with us for between one and twenty years. Our goal is to make sure they have efficient, affordable, and convenient access to legal advice throughout the life of their business.
The business life cycle includes starting, running, growing, and exiting your business. During its life, your business will inevitably face legal disputes or business litigation.
Starting your business.
When you start a business, you have to decide what type of structure it should be. For example, should it be a corporation, a partnership, a limited liability company (LLC), an S-Corporation, or some other structure? Generally, if you are considering real estate investment (holding real estate and leasing it), using an LLC structure is the best option. In fact, LLCs are so flexible and tax-friendly, that they are a favorite among new business owners. However, if you are starting a professional business like a medical practice or accounting firm, or law firm professional corporations or professional LLCs are standard choices. These business types have special features relevant to professional services. Also, S-Corporations are good choices for any business which plans on paying its owners a salary since it allows savings on self-employment taxes. So, deciding on a business structure involves many considerations and my role is to help you make the best choice given your business type and your long-term goals.
Running your business.
Running your business requires an awareness of the local, state, and federal laws and regulations that govern it. These will vary depending on the nature of your business. For example, owning a flower shop versus a gas station will make a big difference with respect to the laws and regulations that govern it. Nevertheless, most businesses will face sales taxes regulations, employment laws, health and safety regulations, and intellectual property laws such as trademark or copyright issues. To stay in compliance and prevent long-term problems, I advise my clients to have a business check-up to review whether their business complies with these relevant laws and regulations.
Growing your business.
Some small businesses wish to grow by bringing on additional owners or investors, hiring additional employees, or by franchising. Adding investors varies depending on whether your business is a corporation or an LLC and whether your business is subject to state or federal securities laws. Adding additional employees can trigger the need to comply with worker’s compensation laws, employment discrimination laws, fair standard labor laws, and family medical leave laws. And franchising can trigger the need for additional trademark registrations and intellectual property rights protections. Most business owners wish to grow, but many don’t do it wisely; they fail to consult with a business attorney. We are here to help you grow.
Business interruptions & disputes.
The same laws that prohibit discrimination prohibit an employer from retaliating against an employee for raising discrimination issues. In other words, an employer cannot demote or terminate an employee for bringing discrimination issues to the employer’s attention or for filing a formal complaint. Retaliation is so common that employees often sue their employer for discrimination and retaliation at the same time. We can help you prevent these lawsuits by evaluating your employment practices.
Exiting the business.
For some small business owners, the goal is to build a successful business and sell it to a bigger business for a lot of money and to retire. If that is an option, we can help you with reviewing all the transactional documents involved with a successful sale. For others, exiting the business may mean selling it to a partner, liquidating it and closing it down, or leaving it to others through a trust or a will. However you choose to exit your business, we are here to help you do it successfully.