Do It Yourself Business Law? Penny-Wise and Pound-Foolish


Starting a business is an exciting, fun, gratifying, scary experience. In my law practice, I often advise business owners on a multitude of issues ranging from the incorporation of an entity to corporate governance to management and labor/employee issues. The issues a business owner faces are myriad. The best contingency plan starts with having one to begin with. Often when I first meet a new business owner, I hear generally the same tale of woe. It goes something like this: business was going great and then suddenly some unexpected event like a data loss, an accident, or some terrible employment issue derails said business because of a lack of preparedness. For example, as a business owner, what would you do if an employee comes to you and reports a claim of sexual harassment; or your best salesman is involved in a terrible car crash that injures a young mother and her two children? The easy answer should be that you activate your contingency plans and receive advice and counsel from your attorneys, your risk managers or your general counsel. Are you shaking your head yet?

The unfortunate reality is that most business owners believe that a few Google searches and placing some telephone calls to a faceless bureaucrat at the appropriate state agency is synonymous with professional legal advice from a licensed attorney. Sadly, this is not the case. I stopped trying to count how many times I have told clients that the difference between statutory language and the applicability of said language in the “real world” is sometimes vast. A trained lawyer is able to analyze a problem, research the statutes and interpretive case law and design strategies to resolve the business’ problem. Many business owners believe that they can muddle through with a reactive strategy, but what these brave souls fail to realize is that wasting valuable time and resources waiting for the inevitable problem to arise is backward. Utilizing resources towards training and devising strategies to address matters in your business in a proactive way is not only better than reacting to problems but it is also less expensive!

Think about it in the context of hostile work environment claims. Training your staff about hostile work environments and having a contingency plan in place to address complaints about hostile work environments rather than reacting in a harried way with no clearly defined plan is obviously the best solution, both economically and realistically, for your business. Further, having an attorney in an outside firm also protects your privacy and ensures that you are able to speak freely about your internal issues; this isn’t always the case with attorneys employed by your business’ legal department.

No matter the size of your business, an experienced lawyer can make the difference relative to strategic planning, conducting investigations, providing counsel in reduction in forces, keeping your business updated with current regulatory issues and essentially providing you and your business with the peace of mind that you are diminishing your risk by sharing said risk with a outside legal counsel.

Sullivan Heiser, LLC has the experience providing reliable, professional consulting services to businesses big and small. Please call us today to discuss how our attorneys can assist your business.

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​If you are looking for a small firm with big firm experience, look no further than the Law Offices of Bradford J. Sullivan.