Using Professional Services
The use of professional services is essential to the success of a business, whether you are buying an existing business or franchise, starting from scratch on your own, or expanding a business you presently operate. Professionals can provide the knowledge and expertise in the areas that are often complex. As a business owner, you need to focus your time developing the business; pulling in professional services can help complete your management team to ensure your business operates successfully.
One of the professionals you will want to consult is a lawyer. There may be situations where you need to seek the advice of a lawyer in order to determine the best course of action. This could include environmental complaints or concerns; employment issues such as contracts, agreements and legal proceedings; disagreements between business partners or contractor; protection of intellectual property; or closing your business/dissolving a corporation.
Lawyers are highly trained to deal with a full range of legal matters and most lawyers tend to specialize in one or two areas of practice, such as start-ups or small business. Many business transactions have legal implications, therefore it is important you select a commercial lawyer you can trust as a business advisor.
When searching for a lawyer, ask your business associates, friends and family for law firm recommendations or visit the Law Society of Saskatchewan
Prepare to explain your particular legal concerns prior to your initial meeting with a lawyer. Think about the possible risks that could happen in your business, both internally and externally.
Ask the law firm what services it can provide to you, and at what cost. Hourly fees may vary from lawyer to lawyer depending on the complexity of the issues, the services required, and the degree of experience of the lawyer. Once a lawyer has determined your needs and is familiar with your situation, an estimate of legal costs can usually be provided.
Some common legal issues that may require the services of a lawyer for your business are listed below:
1. Selection of a Business Structure
Whether you plan to operate a home-based business or are involved in a large commercial operation, you will need to decide on which type of business structure best suits your needs. Your options include sole proprietorships, partnerships, limited or incorporated companies, co-operatives and a few others. A lawyer can help you choose the correct form of business structure, based on factors such as the number of people involved, the type of business, liability concerns, and financial requirements of the firm and tax legalities.
2. Review of Property Purchase or Rent Agreement
Location can constitute one of your largest expenses, and usually represents a long-term commitment. As such, your signed lease agreement is a very important legal document. Leases can vary from a simple one-page agreement to a lengthy complex document, depending on the space you are renting (e.g. mall space vs. separate building). While your realtor can assist you in understanding the costs and basic terms of a lease, it is advisable to have a lawyer explain the legal ramifications for both home-based and commercial businesses.
3. Buying an Existing Business
When purchasing an existing business, you may have to decide whether to buy not only the assets of the business, but also assume the liabilities of that company. Before completing such a transaction, a lawyer should be utilized to conduct the appropriate searches in order to protect your investment (e.g. outstanding liens against the company assets).
While an accountant can review the financials to help determine the return on an investment, a lawyer will review a buy and sell agreement signed by both parties which identifies the demands and obligations of each party, as well as the terms of the deal (e.g. non-competition provision, training period).
Before signing anything, consult a lawyer. Forms of contracts that require the services of a lawyer may include the preparation of a partnership or shareholder agreement, a lease agreement, employment contract, purchase or buy and sell agreement, waiver or franchise agreement.