The prevailing wisdom is to hire a business attorney as soon as you begin thinking about launching a business. They can help guide you through the initial steps. And the more you work with them, the better the relationship you will form.
But what does a business lawyer do exactly? What makes them so indispensable to business owners and executives?
That’s what we’ll discuss here.
How Does a Business Lawyer Learn the Role?
Business law is a career that college undergraduates often explore — some even while still in high school.
Key skills and abilities an aspiring business lawyer needs include:
- Critical thinking skills
- Aptitude for negotiation
- Writing ability
- Research knowledge and practice
- Analytical reasoning competence
To pursue a legal career after college, someone must pass the LSAT (Law School Admissions Test) before applying to law schools.
When selecting law programs, someone might look for those with concentrations in business law. They also might consider adding some practice areas in addition to build their legal portfolios.
Following law school graduation, someone must pass the bar exam for the state(s) where they wish to practice since state laws can vary.
What Does a Business Lawyer Do?
Each of the following areas of business law can be a practice on its own and often is. Still, many business attorneys choose to combine all or some (or other legal areas) in their practices.
The following practice areas generally fall within business law:
Corporations are heavily regulated, so they hire corporate lawyers to handle their legal issues. Some even have corporate lawyers on staff.
Most corporations have an attorney present at board and stakeholder meetings. This ensures that the corporation is compliant with state and federal requirements.
Small Business Law
Much of the legal help small businesses need is during the formation stage. Small business lawyers begin by advising on how to choose an appropriate legal business structure. They also advise on:
- Business insurance
- Intellectual property
- Safeguarding data
- When to negotiate vs. litigate
And, of course, small business lawyers help with other legal matters too.
Employment (or labor) lawyers work with employees to ensure they have received fair treatment. It can involve matters such as employment discrimination, unemployment compensation, benefits, and pensions.
Antitrust lawyers foster competition by limiting the market power of any given firm. They work to ensure that mergers and acquisitions don’t unduly concentrate market power or lead to monopolies.
Antitrust lawyers also break up firms that have become monopolies and prevent collusion that can lead to cartel formation.
Intellectual Property Law
Intellectual property attorneys advise on copyright, trademarks, patents, and trade secrets.
Intellectual property law protects and enforces the rights of creators and owners of inventions and other intellectual property. It includes musical scores, literary works, artistic creations, and other materials.
In the U.S., tax lawyers help businesses and private taxpayers interpret the Internal Revenue Service and individual states’ tax codes. They offer advice on legal issues involving taxation.
Other law areas (e.g., immigration law) can overlap with business law, depending on the case and situation.
Why Business Lawyers Help Businesses
What does a business lawyer do? We’re guessing it’s more than you thought before reading this. The best business lawyers are those who build trust with their clients and form enduring relationships.
In short, an excellent business lawyer helps keep their clients prosperous and operating within the bounds of the law.
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