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Excessively priced lawsuits can cost your Los Angeles business more than just money; the negative publicity can destroy your reputation. You don’t want to go to trial without a highly skilled and experienced civil litigation attorney who can protect your interests and reputation. Aside from costly lawsuits, small businesses in Los Angeles have to comply with consumer protection and civil rights laws. Staying on the right side of the law is vital to your business.
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Business Litigation Attorney: Taking Care of Businesses
Whether you’re an entrepreneur who is starting a new venture or you are already running a Los Angeles small business, you’ve probably pondered when and if you might need a business attorney.
Having Legal Representation May Save You Money
Due to the perception of hefty hourly rates, many Los Angeles small or medium companies believe they do not have the capital to afford legal help. As a result, these organizations only hire corporate lawyers when confronted with a severe legal problem, like being sued by a customer or vendor. The reality is that legal help should be considered as part of the cost of doing business in Los Angeles. Having the appropriate legal representation tends to save your company money in the long run.
When You Need a Lawyer
While you should consider working with a corporate attorney on a variety of tasks, you do not need a business attorney for every step of running your Los Angeles business. Depending on your experience and drive, you might take on tasks like writing a business plan, securing a website domain name, hiring independent contractors, and so on without help.
In some cases, you might decide to outsource an element of your business, like payroll or recruiting. There are times, however, when your business might face complex issues where a business lawyer is necessary. The key is to get in touch with a business attorney in Los Angeles before you actually need one.
Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late
Many businesses wait until they are sued before hiring a corporate attorney. If you are being sued, it’s already too late. The best time to connect with a good business attorney is before you are sued.
Once you’ve been served with a court summons and complaint, the problem has already occurred. Now you have to pay court costs, attorney fees, settlements, and other expenses to resolve the issue.
Areas of Expertise
There are a plethora of areas in which business corporatelawyers work. When choosing a law firm or any individual attorney, you might decide to go with a lawyer who specializes in one or two areas.
You may also choose to work with a business law firm that covers more ground. What works best for you depends on your business and situation in Los Angeles. Here are some of the areas of law that you may need to consider:
While contracts aren’t always complicated, they can be tricky. You may have a standard contract with customers, clients, and suppliers. You may also have to sign contracts from vendors and suppliers. A good business lawyer will make sure both parties are treated fairly, resulting in fewer breaches of contract.
When you are setting up your business in Los Angeles, you have to make decisions about how it will be organized. This need also applies if you want to make a change to your business’s organization. The most common business entities are:
- Sole Proprietorships
- Owners remain personally liable for lawsuits filed against the company.
- Typically, not required to file with the state to form.
- Profits and losses are reported on the owner’s personal tax return
- Partners remain liable for lawsuits filed against the company.
- Usually not required to file with the state to form.
- Owners report their share of the company’s profit or loss on their personal tax return.
- Independent legal and tax structures separate from the owners; separates personal assets from business debts.
- No limit to the number of shareholders.
- Taxed on corporate profits and shareholder dividends.
- Must hold annual meetings and record meeting minutes
- Limited Liability Corporations (LLC)
- Hybrids of sole proprietorships/partnership and corporations
- Owners are not personally liable for the company’s debts or liabilities
- Profits and losses are reported on the owner’s personal tax return
- S Corporations
- Owners report their share of the company’s profits or losses on their personal tax return.
- Limits on the number of shareholders, who must be U.S. citizens or residents.
- Must hold annual meetings and record meeting minutes.
Leasing offices or retail stores involves highly complex contracts. You might believe that the agreement cannot be changed or negotiated, but that is hardly the case. Your attorney may have a tenant’s addendum that contains provisions that benefit you.
Taxes and Licenses
Your accountant will prepare and file your business taxes. Your lawyer will help register your business for federal and state identification numbers.
Many companies need to register patents or protect their intellectual property. These protections are especially true for Los Angeles businesses that work in media, design, or other creative industries.
If your company has more than one employee, you need to consider human resources. When hiring and hiring employees, your company needs to comply with state and federal laws. You may also benefit from having a lawyer help with employment agreements.
Affording a Los Angeles Lawyers
For many, the fear of extensive legal fees is a deterrent to hiring a business attorney. While there is no denying that legal fees can add up, not having legal help can end up costing even more. Moreover, there are ways to keep costs under control. The first step is to understand the different billing options lawyers use.
Hourly or Per Diem Rate
Most attorneys bill by the hour. They keep extremely details notes regarding the time spent on your case. If your corporate business attorney has to travel, attend trials, or take part in other-time consuming tasks, he or she might bill by the day.
If you only need help with routine issues, your business attorney might have a flat fee. For example, if you need someone to review a commercial lease, help draft an employment letter, or examining a vendor contract, your attorney may have a set rate.
During periods when you may have many legal questions, such as during the startup phase, you might be able to opt for a monthly fee that entitles you to a great deal more time with your Los Angeles business attorney.
If you are involved in a lawsuit or other complex matters, your business attorney might work on a contingency basis. This plan means that they will only receive a payment if your case wins. That payment is typically between 25 percent and 40 percent. If your claim is not successful, you would only owe out of pocket expenses.
Sometimes value billing is called partial contingency. The idea is that you are charged more depending on the type of case. For example, if your corporate attorney is negotiating a contract that saves you money, they might cost more than if they’re looking over a basic contract.
Advice for Affording an Attorney
Understand Your Business Attorney’s Billing Structure
When talking to a potential corporate attorney, make sure to ask how billing is usually handled. If one method seems like it would work best for you, feel free to ask if that is an option. Most business law firms in Los Angeles try to be flexible to meet your needs. Regardless of what type of billing method your business attorney uses, there are a few things you can do to help control the costs.
Ask your Los Angeles attorney to estimate the cost of each matter he or she will be handling. Get this quote in writing. While it’s only an estimate, this will give you an idea of that particular issue is worth pursuing.
Some business corporate lawyers will offer caps. These caps guarantee the maximum cost for a particular service. If your final bill comes in over the estimate, make sure to ask why that happened.
Ask what increments of time your Los Angeles business attorney uses to calculate the bill. Business corporate lawyers keep detailed track of their time. Some will use increments as small as five minutes. Make sure to ask if your lawyer rounds up or down and how. Ultimately, you’re trying to determine if a short phone call or quick email will cost you a lot of money.
Request Monthly Bills.
It’s not incoming for business lawyers to wait until the bill gets somewhat large before sending an invoice. Instead, ask for monthly invoices. Make sure to review each invoice to make sure the work done is appropriate for your case.
Ask questions if it seems that too much time is being spent on a particular task. Also, make sure that your invoices are itemized so you can see exactly where time is being spent.
Don’t be afraid to ask for discounts. Some business law firms in Los Angeles may cut you a break if you pay in advance or submit payments within a certain number of days. Even something as little as a five percent discount on legal fees can save thousands of dollars at the end of the year.
Always Be Prepared
Come up with a plan before meeting with your business attorney. Make sure to have any necessary documents ready and prepare a list of questions or topics you wish to discuss.
If your corporate attorney asked for specific paperwork, fax it to him or her before your meeting, so time is wasted reading them. Try to put your questions together and even consider emailing them before the meeting. If you can avoid calling, emailing, or visiting your lawyer too many times, you’ll keep legal fees down.
While you don’t want to overdo it, make sure to have some contact each month. A short phone call or meeting each month will allow you to deal with legal problems before they grow into significant issues.
How Do I Know If I Have a Good Lawyer?
There are so many law firms in Los Angeles out there, and it can be challenging to know which one to work with. Even after you start working with a business attorney, you might question if he is the right fit for your needs. You should continually evaluate that your needs are being met, whether your meeting for the first time or you’ve been with that lawyer for years. Here are some things you should consider when evaluating your legal options.
- Does my lawyer communicate well? Clear communication is a crucial part of any business relationship but is especially essential when the law is concerned.
- Does your lawyer respond promptly? Does he or she listen to your concerns and respond appropriately? Make sure that your business attorney doesn’t just tell you what you can and can’t do, but explains all of your legal options.
- Is his or her law firm conveniently located? You will most likely make many trips to your attorney’s office. You do not want to waste time on long commutes.
You’ll be glad that you chose a business attorney closer to home, especially during the first few years in business, during an expansion, or if you are involved in a lawsuit. See if your corporate attorney offers video chats and phone calls to help save travel time.
- Do I like this person? Your small business attorney in Los Angeles might not always tell you what you want to hear, but you should feel comfortable speaking honestly and openly at all times. Your corporate attorney can’t do his job if you can’t trust him. Make sure to follow your gut and listen to your feelings.
Contact Best Civil Attorneys Today
Our civil attorneys have a reputation for being honest, professional, and astute. They are well respected by judges, peers, and past clients. Most of all, our team of Los Angeles business lawyers is committed to you. We take the time to explain all of the legal issues and options in the necessary detail to ensure you understand the situation and process.
Regardless of whether you are starting a new venture or need help keeping your small business in Los Angeles running smoothly, we have the passion, experience, and expertise to make a difference. Don’t wait until it’s too late; contact us today!
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