SMC Working PArts - Oct/Nov 2014

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Starting a Business Begins with Getting Strong Legal Advice Protections by Jacques L. Moye, Sr. ClarkHill

Starting a business has risks of the personal, financial and legal varieties. As such, engaging legal counsel early on in the business formation process is critical. For an entrepreneur, the right attorney can be a valuable partner in business planning, risk mitigation and asset protection. In particular, entrepreneurs should consult with an attorney early on with respect to the following. Shielding Personal and Family Assets Choosing the right business entity for your business is crucial. An attorney will help you determine an appropriate business form, create the business entity, and document and file your business, all in a way that will protect your personal assets from potential business losses and liability and help you to achieve your tax and other financial objectives. Raising Capital Whether an entrepreneur or business owner receives counsel on innovative and cost-effective solutions for access to capital can make or break a startup or small business. A legal advisor will help you navigate the regulations and the different funding options available, make the best choice for your company, and protect your interest when accepting outside funding. 12


Protecting Your Intellectual Property Don’t attempt to navigate patent and trademark waters on your own. Your attorney will prepare and file trademark, copyright and patent applications to protect your unique product or process. Additionally, integrating intellectual property development policies with your employee handbook, along with the creation of non-disclosure agreements, can protect your valuable trade secrets. Making Sense of State and Federal Regulations Local and federal regulations, including those on environment, employment, finance and advertising, change continually, and many of those changes are sweeping. Your legal advisor will ensure you understand and comply with regulations affecting your business. Employee Relations Businesses and owners are faced with many employment-related matters. From hiring to formulating policies and benefit packages to discipline, disputes and dismissal of employees or consultants, an attorney will provide you with the knowledge to assess, prevent and resolve these issues. Managing Relationships All successful businesses are built on strong relationships. Be sure that your

relationships with business partners, suppliers, vendors, customers and employees are based on sound, well-drafted agreements by engaging an attorney to review and create contracts to best protect your company. What should you look for in an attorney or law firm? Successful business leaders value attorneys who know their businesses, have relevant experience, are accessible and responsive, and formulate solutions. The early stages of a business can be unstable. Value predictability in your attorney. To get the most value for legal services, find an attorney or firm that can provide service in multiple areas, rather than engaging several firms. To control costs further, ask for predictable fee structures. Entrepreneurs are attracted to both the risks and rewards of starting a new venture. Protect yourself, your vision and the people you care about by seeking legal assistance early and often. WP ABOUT THE AUTHOR Jacques L. Moye, Sr. is an attorney in Clark Hill PLC’s Corporate Practice Group. For more information on Clark Hill’s services, including E2, a program tailored to emerging enterprises and entrepreneurs, visit

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