The Importance Of The Right Legal Firm
If you're like a lot of businesses, you might be tempted to wait until you have a legal problem to find a legal firm.
But by this point, you've already been blindsided by the unexpected and are in a rush to take action.
You're forced into making a quick 'reactive' decision on your choice of legal partner, which might not always result in the best match for your business, or the most positive legal outcome.
Whatever the size of your business, it's important to take the time to proactively choose the right legal firm, before a problem occurs.
Knowing you have the right professional legal representation in your corner can give you peace of mind when the unexpected happens.
Let's take a look at some of the common reasons why your business might need legal assistance, and some tips for choosing the right legal partner.
Does your startup have the right business structure, and all the necessary licences and permits?
When you're starting a business, there are a lot of things to think about.
It's easy to be so focused on the product or service you're offering that you overlook some of the important legal requirements necessary to get your business up and running.
For example, have you considered which business structure is right for you? Do you know what licenses and permits you need to operate your business? Are you aware of your obligations under consumer law?
If you're not sure about any of these things, it's a good idea to speak to a good legal firm before you launch. They can advise you on the best structure for your business, help you apply for the necessary licenses and permits, and ensure you're meeting all your legal obligations.
Do you have shareholder agreements in place?
When things are going well and there is a harmonious relationship with other partners in the business, it can sometimes be difficult to imagine there being any disputes or challenges in making business decisions.
But at some point, conflict and disputes happen in the majority of businesses. Things can get complicated very quickly if there's no shareholder agreement in place.
Working with a legal services partner to draft shareholder agreements can help protect the interests of all shareholders, put a process in place for dispute management, and provide clarity on how certain decisions regarding the business should be made. It can also help put controls around the transfer of shares and your dividend policies.
Is your intellectual property and copyright protected?
Your ideas, your product design, your brand name and your reputation are important.
When you're a small fledgling startup, it's easy to be more worried about getting those first sales in than protecting your intellectual property.
But as your business grows and enjoys success, you're going to get more attention on what you're doing. And people like to copy things that are successful.
By hiring a law firm that has expertise in intellectual property law, you can make sure all your trademarks, digital trademarks, registered designs and patents are fully protected.
Are you following all the correct Data Protection and UK GDPR guidelines?
It's essential that your business is compliant with the UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR) and Data Protection Act 2018, which cover the way that you collect, store and process personal data.
Although there was widespread media coverage in 2018, many businesses remain unsure about what they need to do to ensure compliance.
The implications of non-compliance can include hefty fines of up to £17.5m, or 4% of your annual global turnover - whichever figure is higher.
The right law firm can support your business by running a data audit, helping you put together the right data protection policies and processes, helping craft a documented process for reporting breaches, and ensuring all your contracts with both suppliers and customers are clear with how data will be processed and shared.
Are your commercial agreements with customers and suppliers watertight?
Your Terms and Conditions act as a legal contract between your business and your customers. It's important that your Terms and Conditions are clear, concise, and up-to-date.
It can be tempting to try and save money, and pay for a 'templated' Terms and Conditions to sit on your website. But these are often not tailored to the specific needs of your business, and don't always cover all the bases, which can leave your company open to disputes and legal action.
It can also be tempting to only review the top level points in the contracts of suppliers and outsourcing partners, before signing your name on the dotted line.
But without reading and fully understanding the small print, your business could be inadvertently agreeing to restrictions, liabilities and unfavourable cancellation terms.
The right law firm can work with you to make sure all your customer and supplier contracts are fair, clear, concise and don't leave your business open to either financial or legal surprises.
Are you considering renting or purchasing commercial premises?
You've found the perfect commercial property, but you're not sure if the deal you're being offered is fair or in line with typical market rates.
Commercial leases and purchasing commercial property can be confusing and overwhelming, especially if you're not familiar with the different property laws that cover the UK.
Without the right legal advice, you could potentially find yourself with a lease that has favourable terms for your landlord and doesn't include the protection for your business that you need.
Experienced law firms can help you review your lease or purchase agreement, and make sure you are agreeing to a deal that is right for your business. The right firm can negotiate on your behalf, advise on all legal matters, and make sure you are protected.
How would your business handle an employment dispute?
It's not nice to think about, as your employees can often feel like your family - especially in a small business. But employment disputes can happen in businesses of all sizes - not just big companies.
It's important to act to resolve any disputes quickly. The longer they continue, the more they are likely to reduce productivity and staff morale, and increase legal fees and the potential damage to your business reputation.
By having an experienced law firm in your corner, you'll be best placed to make sure you're on the right side of employment law, and resolve any employment disputes quickly and fairly.
Are you planning a restructure or exit strategy?
You've worked hard to build your business and make it a success, and you might be at a point where you're considering whether to sell or restructure.
This is a big decision and there are a lot of things to consider from a legal and financial perspective.
You most likely won't be aware of all the exit or restructure options that are available to you, and you'll want to make sure that any risk to both yourself and your existing employees is minimised.
This is where experienced law firms can help you. The right legal services partner will be able to guide you through every step of the process to develop a strategy that meets your goals and has a smooth transition for all involved.
How do you choose the right law firm?
It's a big decision to choose which law firm you want to represent you and provide you with legal advice.
Different law firms work in different ways, and specialise in different practice areas.
It needs to be your business decision whether you work with one firm that provides a wide range of legal services, or work with several firms that each specialise in dealing with a particular area of business law.
Historically, finding a legal business to support you might involve searching on the Law Society website, finding suitable law firms, and getting in touch with them to ask for client testimonials.
But at The Directors Choice, it's our mission to make this process easier for you. We've made sure that the process of choosing a law firm for your business is as easy and hassle free as possible.
All the partners in our directory have been vetted and approved by Directors just like you.
Join Our FREE Business Owners Hub
Get access to our latest blogs, PDF downloads and updates.