Starting a business requires research, planning, and a strong team. If you’re wondering, “Do I need a lawyer to start a business?” The answer depends on the business structure, type of business entity, and specific contract or business needs.
While a lawyer can be invaluable in some cases, for other businesses, an LLC formation service can offer the professional support you need and more. Read on to understand where a lawyer can be useful in forming a business.
Understanding Legal Requirements for Starting a Business
The legal requirements for starting a business start with forming a legal business entity. You will want to decide on a business entity, choose a business name, register the business with the Secretary of State, and apply for relevant business licenses and permits. It’s essential to comply with all state and local requirements to maintain the business in good standing. Learn more about who can help you start a business.
The Role of a Lawyer in Starting a Business
A lawyer can ensure compliance and help protect your business. Lawyers will understand industry-specific laws and state requirements to help ensure the business is in good standing.
There are numerous benefits to hiring a lawyer when starting a business. They can provide legal advice and guidance throughout the process of forming a business and help you obtain all necessary licenses, permits, and registration.
Areas Where a Lawyer Can Best Assist in Starting a Business
Depending on the type of business, a lawyer can assist with filing formation documents, creating an operating agreement, and drafting contract templates for employees, suppliers, and partners. A lawyer can help confirm that the business is legally sound and protected in various situations. Here are some key areas where a business lawyer can assist you.
1. Choosing a Business Entity
Do you need to create a corporation or an LLC? Should you choose an S-corporation or a C-corporation? A lawyer can best assist your startup in deciding which business entity to pursue based on ownership structure, number of members, planned business, and future expansion projections.
2. Drafting Contracts
A trusted business lawyer’s advice can be invaluable to your startup in drafting contracts. From employee contracts to non-compete or non-disclosure contracts, a lawyer has the professional expertise to ensure you’re protecting the company’s value. A lawyer might draft common contracts for you including employment contracts, partnership contracts, purchase contracts, sale contracts, and the company’s operating agreement.
3. Reviewing Lease Agreements
When starting a business, you may also need to lease an office space. A lawyer can best assist your startup in reviewing lease agreements to ensure you fully understand the terms and the full lease agreement.
4. Trademark Registration
If you plan to register the business name, proprietary business information, or trade secrets with the US patent office, a lawyer can facilitate the process. They can guide you through the necessary trademark registration documents and protect your business from competitors.
Areas Where You Don’t Need a Lawyer in Starting a Business
While a lawyer can offer essential services in several key areas, there are also areas you don’t need a lawyer, like naming your business or creating a business plan. Here are the steps you can take to launch the business immediately without the assistance of a lawyer.
1. Naming Your Business
You don’t need a lawyer to name your business or to confirm name availability. Instead, you just need to perform a few simple searches to name the business. First, you can search in the Secretary of State’s business name database to confirm that no business is registered in the state with the name.
Then, a Google search will show you available domain names or existing businesses with related names. Finally, you can check with the US Trademarks office to confirm that the name isn’t already trademarked.
2. Registering Your Business Entity
You don’t need a lawyer to register your business entity. You can do this easily with a business formation service or by registering directly with the Secretary of State. With formation requirements varying slightly by state, in most states, you simply need to fill out the Articles of Organization and file it with the Secretary of State along with a filing fee, which ranges from $40 to $500.
3. Writing a Business Plan
You don’t need a lawyer to write a business plan. In fact, you don’t want a lawyer to write your business plan because you need it to contain nuances of market analysis, product research, and cash flow projections that are outside of a lawyer’s usual activity. You can create the business plan yourself or in collaboration with an accountant, CEO, and marketing experts.
4. Obtaining Necessary Licenses and Permits
Obtaining the necessary business licenses and permits is generally a simple process. Depending on the business, you may need to file with the Secretary of State or with the local government. You won’t need any licenses or permits for many businesses, making a lawyer’s service for this unnecessary.
Cost Considerations of Hiring a Lawyer
It’s true that a lawyer’s time isn’t cheap. While some lawyers may only charge $50 to $100 an hour, others charge in the thousands. The average hourly rate of a lawyer in the US is $313. However, the value they can provide in just one hour towards protecting your business can be invaluable.
In addition, lawyers have different fee structures based on their services and your business needs. Lawyers may charge hourly rates, flat fees, or have retainer agreements. There are several online services now that work like a shared retainer. You can pay a monthly fee of $100 to $250 for unlimited legal advice.
Alternatives to Hiring a Lawyer
Alternatives to hiring a lawyer for legal needs like drafting contracts or reviewing lease agreements include legal self-help resources, online legal services, or consulting with business advisors (such as doola). Many of these resources are accustomed to answering common legal questions and can give the information you need at a significantly lower cost.
Some lawyers even consult online as a side hustle. If you have specific or unusual issues related to contracts, trademarks, and liability protection for your business, it may be more appropriate to consult a lawyer.
Using a Lawyer to Protect Your Business
There are times when hiring a lawyer is essential to protect your business. However, for regular formation, getting an EIN, getting business licenses, or opening a business bank account, formation services can offer professional support for a fraction of the cost of a lawyer.
For example, doola offers fast, low-cost professional formation services in all 50 states. You’ll get support to obtain an EIN, open a business bank account, and ensure business compliance. Get doola to help you launch your business today!
Can I legally start a business without a lawyer?
Yes, you can legally start a business without a lawyer. You can form a business yourself, or use doola formation services to form an LLC in any state easily.
What legal aspects should I be aware of while hiring employees?
When hiring employees, it’s essential to be aware of compliance with state workplace laws, insurance requirements, and appropriate federal and state tax withholdings.
What role does a lawyer play during the process of obtaining financing for my business?
A lawyer can help ensure all contracts are correctly filled out and structured to protect your business interests. In addition, a finance lawyer can help secure financing or create a business proposal to facilitate financing.
Can a lawyer guide me through drafting contracts and agreements for my business?
Yes, a lawyer can draft contracts and agreements for your business or advise you on how to do it.
How can a lawyer assist me in handling contracts with suppliers or vendors?
A lawyer can assist you in creating or reviewing contracts with suppliers and vendors for your business.