Business Laws For Small Businesses

Talking about business laws in microscopic detail would need a couple of months of your time! There is indeed a plethora of legislation that governs small businesses, ranging from state to county laws. Some are relevant to your business even today whereas others are outdated and have not been enforced since the early part of the last century!

It is not possible for any single entity, including your local law enforcement department to know them all. Yet, it is vital that you are familiar with at least the most important laws that pertain to your business. As usual we’re here to help.

Business laws fall into certain categories as listed below:

o Business formation laws – these laws pertain to the structure of the business. For example a sole proprietorship is regulated very differently from a corporation.

o Tax laws comprise laws pertaining to all taxation issues, whether it is the filing of returns or the payment of sales tax, corporate tax and other similar levies.

o Employment laws – these govern recruitment and retrenchment of employees, wages & workers’ compensation, unemployment benefits, workers’ rights and related issues.

o Trademark and patent laws – these laws pertaining to ownership of intellectual property such as inventions, trademarks and patents.

o Environmental laws – Companies engaged in the recycling of material and the discharge of hazardous waste must comply with environmental regulations.

o Consumer protection laws – these protect the consumer from fraud or unfair business or advertising practices.

Headache, already? Here are a few tips to help you deal with it.

One size doesn’t fit all. We just talked about some of the important legal categories under which you will find regulations that affect most businesses. In addition, specific laws may apply depending on the type of activity involved. If, for example, you are selling company stocks you will need to adhere to the Securities Law, but for a medical practice, there’s an entirely different set of rules that come into play. State laws may also dictate how contracts and legal documents are to be written and enforced.

Start at the beginning. Just as you craft a business plan in stages, look at the whole legal puzzle bit by bit. Begin with the laws pertaining to the basics of starting a business. Do you need a business license or a special permit? Are you planning to hire employees or will you go it alone? If your business sells goods, it will need to pay sales tax. Look at each business aspect carefully to understand which category of laws apply to it.

Know only what you need to. If you are in business by yourself, for example, you won’t need to bother with laws governing workers and staff until you are ready to hire additional people. Likewise, if you are in a service business, you typically won’t need to bother yourself with removal of hazardous waste.

See the bigger picture. As your business grows, so will the number of applicable laws. Always examine the legal angle when you plan new projects and initiatives. Also, discuss all potential significant legal matters with your advisor.

Ensure compliance. Be unafraid to ask questions of your legal advisor and do not assume something is legal just because it is a common trade practice. Also talk to the local Chamber of Commerce or other business owners to make sure you are on the right side of the law.

Make amends. Finally, should you find that you’ve contravened a law without intending to, take remedial measures. The law is quite lenient with first time offenders – of course, it also depends on the nature of the violation.

Having to deal with laws and legislation may seem a drag, but there’s no denying their importance. Taking adequate steps to ensure that you have to run into them only as much as you need to!

The Ins and Outs of Business Law: Four Specialty Areas

Do you have a head for big deals? Do you like traveling to new, exciting places? Can you keep your cool when those around you are losing theirs? You might just have that rare combination of traits and talents it takes to make a suitable business law attorney.

The Job

If you ask four business lawyers what they do, you could get four different answers. The reason is that there are at least four major areas of practice attorneys may focus on. Sure, some of them do it all, but most concentrate on only one area to better serve their clients’ needs. These clients are generally companies, corporations, banks, or financial institutions. On any given day, they may ask their legal advisers to practice different types of law. Here are the four major ones.

1. Corporate Finance

Large companies and corporations are endlessly raising all forms of debt and equity capital in order to expand and grow their revenue. To do so, they often have to borrow from banks and other financial institutions. It is the job of the business law attorneys who work for them to secure the most attractive commercial loans when financing is needed to fund a new project. To do so, they must negotiate the most favorable terms for their clients before both parties are brought together to seal the deal.

The above is but a single example of what a legal adviser who focuses on corporate law may do. They may serve in countless other capacities where action or advice is needed in a business matter. But whatever the transaction may be, these sought-after attorneys make certain all documents and paperwork are in compliance with state and federal laws.

2. Real Estate

Most folks think buying a home is a major hassle. Well, how about buying a building or an entire city block? Business law attorneys help their clients acquire new property on almost any scale imaginable. They help them purchase, fund, lease, manage, and sell their real estate holdings. These properties may include anything from two-family homes to large retail to office and industrial developments.

In addition to helping with the purchase or sale of real estate, finance lawyers may also help their clients resolve complicated title or environmental issues that must be addressed before a transaction can be completed. They can even work on the other side of the aisle for the lender.

3. Private Equity Funds

When you handle other people’s money, countless rules are used to regulate your conduct. Private equity fund managers might know how to provide working capital for target companies, but they may not be aware of all the legal ramifications of their actions. It is for this reason that finance lawyers are needed whenever portfolio investments are made or new funds are formed. Whether the funds focus on mortgage lending, precious metals, or real estate, experts are needed to deal with the complex business, tax, and regulatory issues that are almost always involved in the formation and management of these funds.

4. Contracts

For a finance lawyer to correctly evaluate a contract and determine whether or not signing it is in the best interests of his client, he must be intimately aware of his client’s business needs. Why? Because as important as contract law may be, it is fairly elementary. In other words, any attorney worth his salt should be able to peruse a contract and determine if it is copacetic. But if you don’t know what your client’s goals are, how can you get him what he wants?

As exciting as the deal-making aspect of the job may be, most business law attorneys spend most of their time working out the fine points and minor details of contracts and other agreements. They must also devote an awful lot of time and energy to learning about the corporate world before they can competently apply their trade. That said, it is a challenging and rewarding career, both financially and intellectually.

Costs of Hiring the Business Law Attorney

Everyone who has already hired a business law attorney will tell you that legal services are not cheap. So, before hiring a lawyer, you should ask yourself how much you are willing to pay for the services. When you are searching for legal services, you should always ask potential attorneys to explain their fees and billing practice fully. Do not hesitate to ask detailed questions and never feel embarrassed. A lawyer’s readiness to discuss the fees is an important indicator of how he or she treats the clients. If you have a basic knowledge about how lawyers generally charge for their services, it may help you to negotiate the best deal when you need to hire one.

A best business attorney may suggest hourly fees, flat fees or even contingency fees. But the exact price of these fees structures is determined by several factors. The cost of a lawyer is influenced by the amount of effort and time required for your case, whether you live in an urban or rural area, by the outcome of the case, by the experience of the lawyer and by the processing costs. All these elements will impact the total cost of a lawyer.

  • The hourly rates are the most common arrangement. On an hourly fee basis, a business law attorney gets paid an agreed-upon hourly sum for the hours that he puts in a client’s case until it is resolved. The hourly rate depends on the lawyer’s experience, operating expenses and the location of the practice. When it comes to your business’ protection, you should keep in mind that it is more effective to hire a lawyer with a lot of experience and expertise.
  • When dealing with the business law matters such as wills and simple bankruptcy filings, most attorneys typically charge a flat fee. However, the flat fee might not include other legal expenses such as the filing fees.
  • You can be charged on a contingency fee basis in certain types of cases. It means that the business law attorney will take any fee from you, but will get a percentage of the settlement money.
  • As for the expenses and court costs, there are no averages and it is hardly possible to give an accurate estimation. You should carefully discuss everything with your business litigation attorney and anticipate any miscellaneous costs so that you can estimate those costs up front and avoid further confusions. Be prepared to check court costs, filing costs, delivery charges etc.

    Regardless of the type of your payment agreement with your attorney, you should get a fee agreement in writing. If a business law attorney is unwilling to offer a fee agreement in writing, do not choose that lawyer.