Does my Business Need a General Legal Counsel?
May 19, 2021
From obtaining an EIN to negotiating startup acquisitions, nearly every aspect of running a small business requires legal know-how. Even minor oversights during the registration process can have devastating consequences for Virginia corporations, but many new businesses cannot afford seemingly expensive corporate counsel. Instead, business owners commonly turn to discount legal services and self-help tools that aren’t designed to address their unique legal needs. Investing in general legal counsel now can actually save businesses from future liability. It also costs less than you might think. Discuss the benefits and protections offered by the dedicated Virginia and D.C. business operations attorneys at McClanahan Powers, PLLC today by calling (703) 520-1326 or contacting us online.
Entities Likely to Benefit from Retaining General Business Attorneys
While all businesses can benefit from maintaining dedicated corporate counsel, certain enterprises should consider contracting with full-service business law firms. Data privacy, consumer protection, labor, and tax laws change each year, and these changes seldom protect small business owners. Corporations offering one or more of the following services in Virginia or D.C. should connect with local business counsel:
- Employee Benefits – Businesses with W-2 employees – whether hourly or salaried – should consider retaining corporate counsel. Numerous laws require certain employers to provide employees with medical benefits, worker’s compensation insurance, minimum wages, overtime pay, sexual harassment training, and family medical leave. The hiring and termination process also subjects employers to federal anti-discrimination (EEO) and wrongful termination laws. From drafting computer use policies to preparing protective severance agreements, obtaining dedicated legal services now could prevent potentially bankrupting legal disputes.
- E-Commerce & Online Ordering – If consumers can order products/services online, you need legal assistance. Virginia is preparing to pass its Consumer Data Protection Act, variations of which already exist in other states. Protecting your business from potential data breaches and privacy liability often means drafting valid terms and conditions, encrypting personal and financial data, and following ever-evolving international and interstate commerce rules.
- Government Contracting – Many D.C. and Virginia small businesses benefit from the booming government contract industry. However, this complex area of regulatory law necessitates dedicated corporate counsel. Mistakes could result in expensive federal litigation, administrative agency disputes, and bid protests.
- High-Risk/Dangerous Operations – Medical practices, restaurants, commercial vehicle fleet owners, large landscapers, general contractors, and recreational service providers should expect personal injury and contract litigation. These common lawsuits often impact these legally high-risk businesses, and owners frequently benefit from retaining dedicated corporate counsel.
- Non-Profit/Public Services – If you operate a 501(c)(3) corporation or accept federal/state grants, you should consider retaining general legal counsel. Specialized tax and financial reporting regulations apply to these organizations, which cannot risk losing their tax exemptions.
- Proprietary – Businesses deriving value from unique technology, algorithms, smartphone apps, formulas, and recipes must protect their trade secrets. The Federal Defend Trade Secrets Act, Virginia Uniform Trade Secrets Act, and related intellectual property laws only protect these unique property rights if you guard them appropriately. Experienced legal counsel might help startups draft confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements to protect their products and services.
- Many small businesses offer multiple services triggering federal and state laws. While retaining corporate counsel cannot prevent all litigation, properly setting up your business can drastically reduce liability and related expenses. Boilerplate contracts and downloadable online forms seldom reflect state law accurately and only provide false security. Whether you need website terms and conditions, an employee handbook, or bulletproof liability waivers, only trust experienced corporate counsel in your operative state.
Average Cost of Retaining Corporate Lawyers in Virginia and D.C.
Many small businesses mistakenly assume they cannot afford dedicated legal counsel. However, it often costs less than you’d think. General business lawyers frequently provide an array of services at pre-negotiated rates without expensive annual retainers. It’s often cheaper to retain consulting business attorneys than hire in-house counsel. Typically, small business operations attorneys request annual retainers between $500 and $10,000, depending on your unique legal needs. They might then offer guaranteed advisory services, reduced hourly rates, or flat-fee agreements throughout the year. For example, general counsel may provide Virginia startup services – including drafting operating agreements, filing articles of organization, and registering with the IRS – for an affordable flat fee. Business clients often set the scope of the attorney-client relationship to meet their legal and budgetary needs.
Benefits and Services Offered by General Business Counsel
Corporate lawyers frequently provide clients with an array of legal services that would otherwise cost more to obtain on an individualized basis. It’s also practically difficult to obtain immediate legal advice and action without an established attorney-client relationship. By retaining dedicated general counsel for your small business, you might benefit from the following established client services:
- Contract drafting, review, and negotiation
- Lawsuit defense and rights enforcement
- Financial regulation compliance, i.e., Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002
- Administrative agency and insurance appeals
- Mergers and acquisitions
- Virginia and D.C. corporate governance compliance, i.e., preparing articles of incorporation, stock certificates, and operating agreements
- Registered agent services
- Safeguarding personal and financial data
- Labor and wage compliance
- Intellectual property protection, i.e., trademarks, copyrights, patents, and trade secrets
- Employee mediation and dispute resolution services
- Customized legal referrals and attorney vetting for non-practice areas
The attorneys at McClanahan Powers, PLLC, can perform detailed legal business analyses for corporations entering the Virginia or D.C. marketplace. They can identify areas of potential liability, update legal documents according to recent data privacy standards, and close regulatory gaps created by the interplay of state and federal law. Retaining general counsel now also connects business owners with experienced corporate counsel as needed. Whether you need someone to draft investment proposals, respond to time-sensitive government inquiries, or review new employee policies, you won’t need to re-establish the attorney-client relationship. Corporate counsel becomes a part of your team.
Connect with Dedicated Virginia & D.C. Business Operations Attorneys at McClanahan Powers, PLLC
All businesses, from local bakeries to international government contractors, can benefit from retaining general legal counsel at McClanahan Powers, PLLC. Our experienced business operations attorneys might provide an honest assessment of your corporate vulnerabilities while protecting your business from government overreach, unmeritorious lawsuits, and trade secret theft. Schedule your business legal analysis by calling our Virginia and D.C. corporate attorneys today at (703) 520-1326 or contacting us online.