Family businesses tend to be small operations, and it can seem like having a corporate lawyer would be overkill. After all, you’re family, so you ought to be able to get along and figure things out without the help of a lawyer. But this is not always the case. Mixing family and money can complicate any issue, and family businesses often extend beyond the family as the business grows. Having a corporate lawyer on retainer can help you in the following situations.
Get Business Advice
Every business should have an objective third party who can give them solid business advice. Family-run businesses, in particular, with their risk of causing family drama and rifts, should have a corporate lawyer who can guide them toward what’s best for the business, not what’s best for one or two family members. A lawyer can advise you on real estate purchases or sales, business purchases or sales, real estate leases, business agreements and documents, and how to reduce your liability and protect your assets against possible risks to your business.
Draft and Review Contracts and Paperwork
There are numerous situations that involve contracts and paperwork: business formation, buy/sell agreements, franchising, succession agreements, mergers, joint ventures, restructuring, and agreements with employees, customers and suppliers are just a few examples. While there are often DIY blank contract options found in office supply stores or online, these “one size fits all” options aren’t personalized to your business. On top of that, there are plenty of legal issues you may not be aware of if you try to draft it yourself. A good corporate attorney can help you navigate the paperwork and ensure that it’s all legal and enforceable.
Handle Employment Issues
Whether it’s entirely staffed by family or a mix of family and other employees, employment issues in a small business can get complicated. No one wants to tell Dad he’s calling in sick too much or ask Grandma for a raise. A corporate lawyer can help you create employment agreements that outline everyone’s responsibilities, expectations, and salary. They can also help you handle issues such as whether to classify someone as an employee or independent contractor, ensure tax issues are handled appropriately, and other employee issues that might be awkward to bring up among family.
You might think that your business is too small to warrant taking up a lawyer’s time, or that it’s too small to afford his fees. You might even believe your family is immune to drama and can easily figure out all issues. But when you mix family and business, emotions can run high. A quality corporate lawyer can help you navigate hot-button issues and come to agreements that are best for the company without destroying Thanksgiving or Christmas at the same time. The peace of mind a lawyer can bring is worth it.