A sole proprietor is governed by business law as is a large corporation, with the fundamental difference being the level of complexity. However, even the small family-owned business must to be aware of basic tax requirements, and should at least be satisfied as to why incorporation may or may not be in their best interest. For competent advice on these matters, a corporate business law attorney should be consulted. Certainly, if you are planning to purchase (or sell) a business, or you’d like to explore the possibility of growth by amalgamation and the likely reorganization that would occur, it would be time to retain a lawyer.
Business laws vary from state to state, so your first step in finding an attorney is to search within your state. If you are planning a merger of two companies, each incorporated in their home states, it is sometimes possible to find an attorney who is licensed to practice in both. However, start your online search with your home state
If you wish to obtain very specific legal advice on shareholders agreements or limited partnerships, for instance, then instead of the above “Washington Business Attorney” search term, you can simply replace “business attorney” with “limited partnerships law”. However, as long as the search is for lawyers licensed to practice in your state, you can drill down at a later point, perhaps by locating law firms in your city and then finding out what their experience and expertise is.
Corporate business law covers many areas of operation in addition to those already mentioned. Financing is obviously an important area where you should be guided by legal and accounting experts, while franchises, distributorships and lease agreements are also normal business activities where an attorney should be present. Even something as standardized as the maintenance of corporate records, a mandatory activity, may be better managed by a law firm, especially as there are usually designated clerks who are trained to do this task for hundreds of companies.
Certainly an experienced corporate business attorney should be pro-active and look to potential future actions and consequences. For example, a good lawyer should be able to reorganize the capital structure of your business so that, if you sell, the tax structure is such that it benefits you.
Still think a family-operated business doesn’t really need legal advice? Maybe succession planning is beyond your ken. If so, go in for a consult. It may be very much worth your while.