As a start-up or a small business, it can sometimes seem like a smart decision to do some legal work yourself, so you can forego legal fees. Every penny counts, of course, but this short-term decision might end up causing big problems for your company in the long run. It is sometimes patently obvious when a company needs a lawyer, but there are some areas that companies commonly overlook:


Many new companies are often so focused on hitting the ground running that corporate governance takes a backseat. They decide that their by-laws, operating agreements, shareholder agreements, or other corporate formation documents can wait. Unfortunately, the first legal bump in the road many businesses face is a founder or an owner wanting to leave or being forced out. If your company’s formation documents do not contemplate an orderly exit, the ensuing fight can cause a business to implode.


It can be extremely tempting to simply accept someone else’s non-disclosure agreement or commercial contract when exchanging information or engaging with a new service provider. After all, you save money on attorneys’ fees and can review the contract yourself. Unfortunately, that often turns out to be a bad decision that can have dire consequences for your business’s future. The paperwork that safeguards your proprietary business information and governs your commercial relationships is of utmost importance. Making sure that they are solid on the front end can save you a lot of headaches and grief if things go off the tracks.


In the business world, where everyone may be keeping their heads down focused on making sure the business is profitable, companies can sometimes pull form employment agreements off the internet, hoping that they will safeguard the company in the event an employee needs to be terminated, or simply when someone leaves. While the internet can be a very good source of certain information, it can be dangerous to use a template that doesn’t necessarily conform to your jurisdiction’s governing law and may not be the best to protect your business.


In business, it can be frustrating to be the subject of someone attempting to collect a debt, and it can be equally as frustrating to be the collector. A lawyer can help you assess your legal rights by reviewing the governing documents and the applicable law, so you can determine the best and most cost-effective way of going forward.


Most businesses have an internet presence and may collect personal information from their customers. Most of us have heard grumblings pertaining to the enforceability of website terms and how the laws related to privacy policies are changing. Despite the spotlight on these issues, however, many businesses still create their website terms and conditions and privacy policies by cutting and pasting from another website. Putting aside the issues this raises with copyright infringement, a website’s terms and conditions and privacy policy are legal documents and only useful if well-tailored to your business and its customers.

Many people say that it can be intimidating to find the right attorney to help your company with its legal needs. An attorney can be an invaluable resource, however, and the right attorney can serve as a partner in ensuring that your company gets off on the right foot.