The last things someone running a business would like to think about is the right time to hire a business dispute attorney. For most business owners, the goal is to stay out of business disputes and litigation if possible. Disputes and litigation can be stressful and expensive for the parties involved. However, many disputes may be avoided before they begin with the help of a business attorney. Attorneys can provide valuable insight and have practice handling issues that arise in business transactions. The right attorney can make a world of difference for a small business. Knowing when and why to contact a business attorney can be a valuable asset for a business, and there are several key signs or steps in running a business that it may be time to contact an attorney. This article will explain what business disputes are and the signs to watch for that may mean it is time to call an attorney.
Defining Business Disputes
Business disputes are disputes that arise within the course of running and operating a business. They can be both internal disputes among employees or decision-makers, or they can be disputes with other business or government organizations. Many disputes arise out of contract claims, whether it be product contracts or employment contracts; however, business disputes can be the result of a wide variety of issues that affect the business. Some other common examples include breach of fiduciary duty, tax issues, incorporation and documentation issues, and immigration issues for employees. Business law balances the excitement of a varying practice with the steadiness of civil litigation and transactional law.
The variety of disputes makes business law difficult and many business dispute attorneys can represent competently on only a specific area of the law that they specialize in. This is due to the depth of knowledge needed for these specific cases. Business dispute attorneys work together on complex cases that bridge areas of business law and often can refer a client to another attorney within their firm if needed. Contacting a business dispute attorney will likely help a client find the right lawyer, even if they are not the first person that they called.
Signs That It is Time to Call a Business Attorney
When a dispute pops up within a business, the owner may question if hiring an attorney is worth the hassle. For smaller, uncomplicated disputes, it may be true that the business will be able to settle the dispute on its own. However, this is not always the case, and the business needs to be aware of the signs of the need to contact an attorney and bring one in. Some of these signs include:
- High Risk: One sign that it may be time to call an attorney is that the dispute places the business at risk of loss should it continue. Attempting to handle such a dispute without an attorney may expose the company and the agent to even more risk, so it is best to keep the dispute in the care of an attorney who is trained to assess and manage the risks. The attorney will be able to determine how great the risk to the business is and how to proceed to protect the company. Being fully honest with an attorney will also ensure that the attorney has an accurate picture of the risk and how to manage it.
- Lack of Knowledge: Some people have a great idea for a business but have little to no experience in setting up a business and keeping it in compliance. An attorney that is skilled in business development can help a business that is starting to grow with compliance issues and other issues that a new business may face. The same can be true for experienced business people who encounter an issue that is outside their realm of expertise. An attorney with that expertise may be able to assist the client and move the company forward.
- Issues with Incorporation: When there are issues with the incorporation of a business, it can be helpful to call a business dispute attorney to help guide the business through the process and ensure that everything is correct with registration so that the business can continue to run smoothly.
- Growth: Rapid growth in a business can lead to increased risk to the business, so it may be helpful to have an attorney guide the business through the transition. The attorney can help make decisions and keep the business in compliance with any regulations. They can also make sure that the right processes are in place while the company shifts to allow the parties to continue working and growing together without a dispute.
- Questioning Litigation: Another common sign that it may be time to call an attorney is when the company begins to question whether or not a dispute may be properly solved through litigation. Any time litigation is contemplated, it is wise to call an attorney to consult with them about the best process. Attorneys can help assess the situation and make recommendations from litigation to a simple restricting of a business relationship or signing a new contract.
- Overly Busy: Business owners are often incredibly busy and are involved in many facets of the business. This often leads to owners not having the time to devote to legal disputes. When a person is already stretched, they will not perform well or accomplish what they need. Hiring an attorney will add fresh eyes and encourage the owner to participate only when necessary to complete the work.
- Repetitive Disputes: When a company is facing the same dispute in a variety of ways, it is a sign that there is something wrong in the company that needs to be addressed or the disputes may keep happening. An attorney can run an audit of the structure or contracts in the company and determine where in the company that common disputes are happening. This can help the company address the issue and stop the dispute from popping up again.
While these are examples of when to hire an attorney, there are also instances where it may be best to handle the work within the company. These examples include:
- Differences in Opinion: Occasionally, a dispute will result from a difference of opinions based on personal principles or other morals. These types of disputes are not well suited for litigation and are often best resolved within the company. It could also be beneficial to bring in a mediator to help resolve the differences, but an attorney, in this case, would likely be an unnecessary expense.
- Public Relations Issues: Companies may face backlash for their involvement in certain types of lawsuits. If the public image is important to a company, which it usually is, it may be best to try and resolve a dispute without an attorney.
- Necessary Relationships: Businesses may face disputes that are present in business relationships that are necessary to the functioning of one or both businesses. The addition of lawyers to a relationship can sour the experience and make the relationship strained in the future. This is not always the case, but consideration should be made when in this type of situation.
Business disputes can be complicated and involve many areas of law. Companies can face issues from inception to growth and beyond. Business attorneys are often skilled in certain areas of the law and would be able to help a business navigate the disputes that arise. There are times when having an attorney to help with a business dispute is necessary, such as complex disputes involving specialized knowledge or issues that present a particularly high risk to the company. However, there are other instances where the dispute would be best served within the company, such as personal disputes or disputes in relationships between companies that could cause issues in their relationship. Assessing the situation and understanding the dynamics of the dispute will help determine whether or not an attorney is necessary. While keeping costs down is important, protecting and advancing the company for the long run is the most important thing a company can do.