Running a business in California is not easy. With a myriad of laws regulating labor, intellectual property, tax, operations, and administration, sometimes it can make business owners feel as though they are walking a thin tightrope trying not to lose balance and fall off. Protecting your business can be hard work, and although there are some things that you can handle independently, here are the top 5 things all business owners should discuss with their lawyers:
#1 – Discipline & Firing Policies. Nearly 92% of small business owners anticipate facing an employment claim for wrongful termination, discrimination, harassment, or bias at some point during the business’s life cycle. Although 75% of these claims are found to be groundless, defense costs can be high, and the average employment claim settles for between $22,000 – $40,000. This amount can be significant for a small business. Some of the top reasons employees sue employers have to do with termination, “unfair” disciplining, a refusal to hire, whitewashed internal investigations, lack of accommodation for medical conditions, labor law violations, and blacklisting/defaming the employee after departure. There is a high enough likelihood that employment claims will become a problem for your business at some point that it is worthwhile to get legal help involved early, for example, to effectuate necessary employment policies, handbooks, progressive discipline policies, performance reviews, and other mechanisms. For more information, check out our Top Reasons Employees Sue Employers article.
#2 – Advertising. Advertising is heavily regulated by state and federal law, but most small business owners often push the envelope with advertising, often as a result of a desire to keep up with aggressive advertising taken by competitors in the same or different fields. However, every day, businesses in California and through the nation are sued for misleading or deceiving consumers. If ads are considered deceptive, legal problems will result, even if you did not mean to deceive consumers. Your intentions will not matter, and what counts is the overall impression that reaches the consumer, not technical truthfulness. Problems with advertising can result not only based on the claims made, but if someone’s pictures, logos, or information is used, or if their other intellectual property rights are violated. To avoid problems with advertising, some companies run ad campaigns past their lawyers for review and doing so can help mitigate the likelihood of getting in trouble over advertising.
#3 – Business Succession. What will happen to your business if you retire, become ill, incapacitated, need long-term care, or worse? According to CNBC, the vast majority of small business owners have no business succession plans or even thoughts about what to do in the event they can no longer run their businesses on a day to day basis. Business succession planning is essential not only for family-owned businesses, but small businesses of all sizes, including sole proprietors. Starting and growing a business involves years of hard work and sacrifice, and adequate planning must be taken to ensure that the business can sustain the CEO’s planned or unplanned leave from operations.
#4 – Intellectual Property. As a business owner, you may have a variety of ideas and products that your business develops, sells, manufactures, or distributes. Without proper licensing for your business’s products or services, you could end up in a battle with competitors over your business’s name, brand, trademarks, trade names, or other intellectual property.
#5 – Your Business’s Insurance Coverage. Insurance claims can be the source of tremendous angst for business owners. Paying deductibles, worrying about the increase of premiums for the next year, and dealing with insurance people can be a huge headache. Most business owners do not fully understand what coverage they have and what it really means. Furthermore, rushing through the renewal process can leave gaps or holes in coverage due to the business’s expansion in certain areas for which coverage may not exist. Having an attorney help with the insurance coverage, renewal, and review process can help bring the realities of the business’s coverage into focus and help plan for risks. For more information, please check out our Top 5 Insurance Regrets for Businesses.
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AXIS Legal Counsel’s Business and Corporations Practice provides legal advice to numerous businesses with a variety of legal matters, including business formations, contracts, deals, and transactions, business administration, corporate governance, operations, risk management / insurance, labor/employment matters, intellectual property, healthcare, crisis management, directors/officers, private/data security, technology, statutory/legal compliance, and business litigation. AXIS represents businesses, corporations, LLCs, LLPS, partnerships, and startups in need of a corporate lawyer, for business legal matters as well as business litigation, such as disagreements, non-solicit agreements, non-competes, trade secrets, and other disputes with businesses. We are also experienced in providing assistance to business clients concerning business contracts, corporate formation matters, contracts and transactions, business litigation, business legal advice for Corporations, LLPs, LLCs, Partnerships, Small Business, Startups, and others involving corporate law.
If you are seeking a business lawyer, or for information on retaining AXIS Legal Counsel to represent your business in connection with any legal matter, contact [email protected] or call (213) 403-0130 for a confidential consultation. Axis’ managing attorney Rabeh M. A. Soofi is ranked as one of the “Top Women Lawyers of Southern California” by SuperLawyers Rising Stars, and is a Los Angeles Business Lawyer representing businesses and start-ups throughout Los Angeles and California.
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