As a business owner, you usually run away with the challenges of running your business. The last thing you need to worry about is legal trouble. Many business owners put off dealing with a legal issue because they don’t know where to turn, don’t have the time, or most often, fear how much it will cost and how long it will take.
Legal issues come in many forms:
Customer failed to pay account despite numerous promises.
You have just received a letter from a government agency. · You just found out that your former manager set up a competing business and stole your best customer and one of your key employees. · You have just been sued for $100,000. · Someone has told you that one of your standard form contracts won’t stand up in court and you’re worried about it. · You have a dispute with your landlord. · You have a problem with an American or European customer. · Your business has been defamed on the internet. · You just found out that your warehouse manager sexually harassed a female employee. · An employee is hurting your business but threatens to sue if you fire him. You are not sure how to handle it. · You are involved with a Workplace Safety Insurance claim. These examples are just the tip of the iceberg of the types of legal issues that business owners encounter frequently.
Seek legal help at the first sign of trouble
Suppose a competitor has passed their business under your name and it is costing you customers and sales, but it is difficult to estimate the amount. Unless you act promptly, it may be too late to apply for a Court order. If you think you have a claim against another party under a contract, a limitation period starts from the time the contract is broken and usually expires two years later. It is not a good idea to leave the claim to the last minute.
If you have a problem with an employee who is working unacceptably, it is important to develop a legal strategy as early as possible. The longer you wait, the more it will cost your business.
The short point here is that it is important to seek advice as soon as you detect a problem and before anything is done to make it worse. Crisis management is always more expensive and time-consuming than early response.
Have a team of lawyers to call when you need them.
Every business should have a team of on-call עורך דין This is less expensive or complicated than it sounds. All you need are the phone numbers and email addresses of trusted corporate, employment and litigation attorneys. Depending on the nature of your business, you may also need an intellectual property attorney who deals with trademarks, patents, and copyrights. You may even need a tax attorney because not all tax issues can be resolved by an accountant.
If the amount of your legal dispute is very small, such as a claim or customer complaint for $1,000 or less, it will be uneconomical to hire an attorney. Fortunately, there are other helpful resources. The BBB has a dispute resolution process that allows BBB businesses and their customers to resolve disputes through arbitration or mediation. You don’t need a lawyer and the only cost is a small administration fee. More information about this process is available on the BBB website.
If your case is in Small Claims Court ($10,000 or less), you may need a paralegal who specializes in these types of cases. Paralegals are now regulated by the Law Society but they are not lawyers and they are not a substitute for an experienced lawyer.
Learn what to expect when a dispute arises.
As a business owner, you’ve learned that success is often the result of building relationships. The relationships you build with your attorneys can be just as important to your business success as the ones you have with your clients, suppliers, banker and insurance broker. A relationship with your attorney built on mutual trust and respect will save you many sleepless nights over the years and likely make or save you a lot of money.
There are several ways to find good lawyers for your business:
Ask business associates or relatives if they have someone to recommend. If you receive a recommendation, find out more about the firm and the attorney using some of the research methods below. · The Internet is a very useful means of finding a lawyer but you have to be careful. Any lawyer can list in various online legal directories. Anyone can have an eye-catching website. You have to get past the flash to find the substance.
When looking for a lawyer on the internet, look for someone who has experience in the field you require. The first name in a Google search may not be the best choice. Some lawyers have written extensively on the law. This is a useful indicator of expertise and standing in the legal community.
Some עורכי דין list cases they have been involved in on their websites. Extensive litigation experience in complex commercial matters over many years is a good indicator