Whether you need a lawyer for your online business depends on the unique situation of your business. For example, do you need a lawyer at a startup? Could you delay the extra costs of hiring one until later? Or could you just call a lawyer if there’s a problem? Let’s take a look at the answers to these questions to help you determine why you may or may not need to hire a small business lawyer for your online business.
What Are Your Business Needs?
The legal structure of your business at startup will determine whether you have an immediate need to hire a lawyer. If you are starting a sole proprietorship or general partnership that doesn’t require registration, you don’t need a lawyer to start your online business. If you are structuring a Limited Liability Partnership or Limited Liability Corporation, a lawyer will benefit from navigating the forms and fees to ensure compliance. If you’re starting a corporation, you must hire a lawyer.
Reasons you might need a lawyer for your online business startup:
- For help navigating legal documents and compliance with your chosen business structure
- To avoid learning legal processes for business
- For support with tasks like trademarking, lease documents, partnership contracts, or incorporation forms
Reasons you don’t need a lawyer for your online business startup:
- You are filing a simple business license registration
- To save money
- You are using an online legal service to help you set up your business
General Rules for Hiring a Small Business Lawyer
If you have already had a lawsuit filed against you, it’s too late. If your online business might be at risk of being sued, you should consult a lawyer. Waiting to find one after the fact is counter-productive. A good small business lawyer will help you avoid litigation in the first place.
Choose your law firm carefully. As a general rule, large law firms are more expensive than small ones, but large firms can have significant advantages. Lawyers are specialized within their profession. Small firms with solo practitioners often work in multiple areas of the law rather than specializing in one. If you have complex business needs, it’s sometimes best to work with a lawyer who specializes in small business.
Types of Lawyers for Small Businesses
As the name implies, contract lawyers will help you develop, sign, and respond to business contracts while checking them thoroughly for their legal implications.
Business lawyers specialize in forming corporations and LLCs.
Real Estate Lawyers
If you are leasing or buying business space for your online business, a real estate lawyer can help you navigate the process.
Tax and License Lawyers
You will usually have an accountant to file your business’s tax returns. Still, a tax lawyer can help you register for business tax numbers and examine the tax consequences of your business transactions.
Intellectual Property Lawyers
Intellectual property lawyers are influential concerning online businesses. He or she will help you to get your products or services trademarked and copyrighted. This is especially important in today’s online world if you want to protect your content from theft.
Why Do I Need a Small Business Lawyer for My Online Business?
We’ve already covered some of these reasons, but here are the top ten reasons why your business startup can benefit from hiring a small business lawyer.
Regardless of the type of business you run, you will likely enter into some form of contract. This may be for supply orders or with customers, employees, or freelancers. You want to ensure iron-clad contracts with no room for misinterpretation.
Registration, Licensing, and Permits
Depending on your business structure, you may need to file paperwork to conduct business.
If you set up a business with a limited liability structure, a lawyer will make setup easy.
Your Business Operates in More Than One State or Country
It’s common for online businesses to conduct business operations worldwide. However, liability laws change depending on the location of your customers, and it’s impossible to know which ones apply to you. The EU, for example, has special regulations regarding obtaining customer contact information. It is your lawyer’s job to know how to keep your online business compliant.
You lose the benefit of legal protection if you don’t comply with business regulations.
To start a business, you need money. To grow it, you must have income. There are different procedures for raising capital and distributing income for different legal structures of business.
Some business structures, like corporations, involve double-taxing. A business lawyer can help you optimize your business operations to pay fewer taxes.
Your state may have business laws and regulations you don’t know about. These regulations automatically make decisions for you about your business. Consulting with a legal professional who knows the ins and outs of these regulations will help you navigate them properly.
There is a long list of possible business structures within the five basic structures. A lawyer can help you set up the proper structure for your business in the long term.
Having a lawyer can help you reduce the risk of litigation. Reducing your personal liability for your business operations is critical to your long-term economic stability.
Should I Hire a Lawyer to Form an LLC?
You should have some form of legal consultation when forming an LLC. Ideally, you would hire a small business lawyer to help you. However, if you’re trying to reduce your startup costs, there are online services to help you register and document requirements to ensure you are compliant.
Why is it Important to Have a Business Lawyer?
Business lawyers optimize the structure of your business and protect you from liability.
How Much Does it Cost to Keep a Business Lawyer?
The cost of a small business lawyer can range from $150/hour for a junior associate to over $1,000/hour for a senior partner. Of course, the price will change depending on your location and the size of the law firm. A lawyer in New York City, for example, will cost you significantly more than one in Topeka, Kansas. The average retainer fee for a lawyer in 2021 ranges from $2,000 to $100,000.
Recommendations for Legal Services for Online Businesses
RocketLawyer provides you with easy online access to legal forms and step-by-step chat advice according to the resident state.
LegalZoom provides DIY legal services and attorney advice. What’s great about LegalZoom is that they will refund your fee within 60 days if you aren’t satisfied with their services.
Legal Nature provides you with legal documents for business and real estate.
My Company Works
My Company Works specializes in business formations for those wishing to start an LLC. They take care of all the required forms and registrations, so you can get back to focus on your business.
Hiring a lawyer for your online business can not only help you with startup but protect you in the long term.