You’ve been told you need an attorney. On top of everything else you are currently worried about, now you are wondering, “do I really need an attorney in order to start my business?” The answer to this question is simple: no, you do not need an attorney to start a business. However, an attorney can help save headaches later. There are many things you can do on your own, but having an attorney to partner with can help you prevent legal issues before they happen. It is also comforting to have counsel to call upon when you are stuck and want guidance.
For many people, deciding when to contact an attorney is similar to deciding when to see a doctor. The thought is that if it’s not too bad now, why not wait a few days and see if things become worse? As I’m sure your doctor would also advise you, this is not the way this decision should be made. Being proactive in obtaining counsel, like receiving the flu shot, is a preventative measure. It is much better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it. The last thing you will want as a business owner is to not have someone to call when a customer slips in your parking lot and sues you. Or to have the State call and say that you’re not actually an entity because your filings were incorrect.
When it comes to starting your business, there are many things you can do on your own, such as: drafting a business plan, deciding on the name of your business, hiring employees, and reserving a domain name for your website. You could also draft your own agreements, contracts, and entity formation documents. However, having counsel to do this takes the stress of these nuanced processes off from you. When agreements and contracts are professionally drafted, you can take comfort in knowing that they have been drafted to protect your specific interests as well as the general interests of your business. Alternatively, you could draft your own documents and have counsel to review them. This ensures that what you have drafted is legal and sufficient for your intended purposes. You will also want counsel to review any contracts you are to sign, to ensure that you are not signing your life away for a small benefit. Counsel should also be retained if you are considering patents or trademarks, as these processes can be demanding and particular.
An attorney can also act as your registered agent. When you form an entity, there are annual filings that must be made with the State. If you have counsel as your registered agent, they will take care of completing the filings for your review and submitting them each year. This is one less thing you, the busy entrepreneur, have to worry about. You do not want to miss any filings or fees with the State, so having someone to track this and do it for you provides the comfort you need to continue running your business.
You will also want to retain counsel when it is time to deal with real estate and property of the business. If you want to purchase or lease a commercial property, counsel can research the property, draft purchase and sale agreements (or leases), and prepare transfer documents on your behalf. This means that you can go to your closing knowing that the necessary due diligence has been done and the perfect property for your business will be yours. On the other side, if you determine that it is time to sell your property (or your entire business), counsel will be able to facilitate this deal, as well. Selling your business can be a stressful and emotional time, but having counsel will ease your mind and allow you to seamlessly move through the process.
While you can form your business on your own, a second set of eyes is always better than one. You don’t need an attorney, but having a true strategic partner for your business will help you get off on the right foot and remain moving in the right direction. Your business is yours, and at Rudman Winchell we would be honored to be your partner and help your vision become reality.