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Legal experts can help guide small businesses to successful operations

Entrepreneurs and small business owners often consider the need for a business lawyer, weighing the perceived high costs associated with legal services. While routine tasks like drafting a business plan or obtaining licenses can be handled independently, more intricate issues such as the selling of assets or navigating legal complaints may require the expertise of a small business lawyer.

Taking a proactive approach by incorporating legal guidance into regular business operations is viewed as essential, contributing to stability and resilience in the face of legal challenges. Here are some key ways in which legal professionals can support and contribute to the success of businesses.

Navigating legal terrain with expert guidance

Jennifer Walrath, an attorney at Idaho Employment Lawyers, provides guidance to businesses through a blend of litigation defense and proactive measures. She emphasized the importance of timely legal advice, especially for smaller businesses facing complex situations without in-house legal support.

“The sooner you get things in place, the better,” she said. “If you have a relationship with an attorney or someone handling [human resources] within your business, many issues can be addressed without a lawyer. However, for trickier matters, knowing when to reach out to counsel is important, especially for smaller businesses without in-house attorneys.”

The firm offers counseling services to assist employers in managing various employee situations, such as performance issues, ADA accommodations, FMLA leave and claims filed with a state human rights commission or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

“We have training available online, and our Law for Leaders program focuses on training supervisors and high-level folks within an organization about the law and their enhanced responsibility to ensure compliance,” Walrath said.

For small businesses and entrepreneurs aiming to navigate challenges proactively, Walrath recommends creating handbooks. These guides serve as essential tools, establishing clear rules and expectations for both employees and employers. Taking a proactive approach to legal compliance, even in routine matters, can significantly benefit businesses in the long run.

“There’s value in ensuring your house is in order as an employer,” Walrath said. “It might feel overwhelming to business owners, but having an employee handbook is incredibly helpful. It’s crucial for disciplinary and termination decisions, providing a valid reason and defense against potential lawsuits.”

Navigating business transitions and crafting an exit strategy

Tim Tyree, an attorney at Tyree Bauer Baldner, focuses on facilitating business and real estate transactions. His expertise lies in assisting individuals with buying, selling, leasing and financing various assets.

“I help people buy, sell, lease and finance things,” Tyree said. “If they want 40% interest in a company or they own 40% interest, I’ll help them establish the contractual rights surrounding that interest.”

Tyree described his involvement from the inception of a business, helping clients navigate the complexities of forming, operating and eventually exiting a company. He divided the process into three key categories: Starting the business, establishing operational policies and planning for a successful exit.

“Oftentimes, the most important discussion they can have is what is their exit strategy,” he said. “We all hope to retire someday, and sooner or later, all good things will come to an end.”

While a great business partnership may not always require extensive legal agreements, he highlights the importance of preparing for unexpected challenges.

“When things don’t go as planned, that’s when the attorney is important,” he stated. “The law doesn’t provide any efficient remedy for the end of business relationships like it does in other arenas.”

Overall, Tyree suggests viewing the relationship with a lawyer as a crucial partnership, advising businesses to shop for an attorney like any other professional service provider. Trust, communication and a clear understanding of the client’s business are key factors.

“Having trust in your gut, listening to the professional and getting a sense that, yes, this person believes me and I believe in them,” he added. “When you’ve got that type of professional trust, you’ve found a good professional, whether that’s in the attorney world, your physician, counselor or the mechanic working on your car.”