Why can’t I simply use Internet forms to create my business

Just as a house built on a faulty foundation will not be sound, so a business operating in the wrong form will not be effective. The choice of entity for the business can either interfere with or promote the operations of the business. You need the advice of an experienced attorney to decide whether a partnership, LLC, corporation or some other form of doing business is appropriate for your plans.

I don’t have much money. Why should I waste some on attorneys?

There is a cost associated with getting legal help, just as there is with any other profession. However, compared with expenses for inventory, advertising and other business assets, the cost is minimal. Getting your business started properly will save you money in the long run. It is always better to avoid a problem than to fix it later.

What can an attorney do that I can’t do myself?

Business decisions often include a certain amount of fantasy. For example, if you are analyzing a contract to buy a franchise, the excitement of operating the new business or your confidence of success can blur your vision and affect your analysis of the business opportunity presented. Only someone who is not personally involved with the decision can make a completely dispassionate analysis. When you are considering investing your money or your valuable time, you should have the advice of someone who can clearly analyze the rights and responsibilities that you will be involved with.

You may have heard the phrase “An attorney who represents himself has a fool for a client.” Simply put, you can’t adequately analyze your own situation from the inside.

What if I already have my business running?

Doctors and dentists advise their patients to have regular checkups. They want to keep their patients healthy by identifying possible problems early so action can be taken to avoid major complications. Businesses, like people, can be in good legal health or bad. The best way to avoid problems is to check with your attorney before you sign that contract, place that order or hire that contractor.

The maxim “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” applies to your business. An hour spent with your attorney reviewing a situation and identifying dangers and areas of concern is a bargain, compared to the many hours that would be spent trying to undo a bad situation. The best lawsuit is the one that you don’t have.

How can my attorney save me money?

Businesses run on paper. Agreements, memos, order forms, contracts, employment agreements, specifications and many other documents flow through your business each year. Although their use may be neutral, all of them were designed to create a record of rights and responsibilities. How that record is created can determine who wins or loses if a disagreement arises over the substance involved. You should take the time to draft your documents in a way that will help you if there is a dispute over some business matter.

Why do I need an attorney to look at business documents? It’s just boilerplate language anyway

“Boilerplate” language is thick, dull and gray. The term derives from the thick, dull, gray metal plating that covered boilers on steam engines. The only way to get power out of steam engines was to create high pressure in the boilers, and that steam pressure had to be held in by thick plate.

In the same way that the boilerplate held in the steam of an engine, the boilerplate of a contract is meant to hold something in. If that contract was not drafted by you or your attorney, you can be sure that the something being held in is you. The contract was drafted to maximize the rights of the drafting party and to minimize your rights. But, it doesn’t have to remain that way. Your attorney can identify those parts of the contract that limit you and redraft them to free you from the limitations. In business almost everything is negotiable. The other party wants your business, or they would not have sent you the contract in the first place. If you simply accept the other party’s contract you may be accepting needless and costly limitations.

How can my attorney make me money?

A great way to make money is to not lose it. Your attorney can identify provisions in your business documents that can be costing you money. A proper attorney’s fee provision could mean that your customer pays your lawyer if you have to sue on a debt. Delivery and timing provisions can keep the flow of business in order. Default provisions can keep you from having to pay if the other side fails to perform. Each contract is different, but a well drafted one can leave you much better off than a badly drafted one.

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