Choosing The Best Lawyer for Your Small Business

Sooner or later, as you go about your business operations, chances are that you are going to need a lawyer to help you address the many legal issues that are almost sure to crop up during the course of running your business. The very nature of business almost guarantees that this will happen.

When these legal issues do indeed start coming up, this is when your choice of legal representation can go a long way in determining how well your business survives these legal hurdles.

It  is easy to get any lawyer to help walk you through any legal issues you are having in your business, but getting a good lawyer is an entirely different ball game. One rule of thumb is finding a lawyer who understands the nature of your business. That is one of the key considerations in finding a lawyer to represent your legal business interests. And where they do not fully understand it, provided they are willing to learn, then all should be fine.

To get the “best” lawyer, you need to do more than just sitting in the office and making a few calls. You need real guts, and in this article, we are going to show you just how you can choose the best lawyer for your small business.

Know when you need a lawyer

Knowing exactly when to get a lawyer for your small business forms an important part of getting a good lawyer. For instance, when starting your business, you might just want to consult some lawyers to help you with business formation or general consultations.

So when do you hire a lawyer. Well, you need to do it as early as possible in your business formation process. This ensures that before you do something illegal, your lawyer might have given you the right advice to prevent you from committing any crime, or otherwise falling foul of the law. Prevention they say is always better than cure. Getting a lawyer early enough equally helps you build a good, long-lasting relationship between your business and that particular lawyer.

Focus on specialization

There are general lawyers whose focus is on general cases. Operating a small business means that you should get a lawyer who does not just have knowledge in small business formation and administration, but also conversant with the small business atmosphere and your specific niche.

Getting a general lawyer is not necessarily a bad idea, especially if you are just starting out with a tight budget and wouldn’t want to spend all your start-up capital on legal issues. This way, you can get a general lawyer, but make sure that your lawyer is good enough to refer you to specialists when the need arises.

For instance, if it’s about contract, you can get a good contract attorney to handle the case for you. Each lawyer has their own field, and you should take advantage of that.

Always go for an innovative lawyer

No matter how good, intelligent, and innovative they are, lawyers will always need to listen to you, the small business owner in order to learn more about your business. However, you should not  have to use your money to hire a ‘dumb’ lawyer who brings nothing to the table.

A lawyer, after listening to what you want, should be able to brainstorm and bring legal solutions to daring issues that are disturbing your business.

Listen, research, and use referrals

If for instance you are a small business operating out of New York, after you’ve made your decision as to the kind of New York small business attorney you want to hire, you have to research your environment, listen to other small businesses about the kinds of lawyers they use or have used in the past, and also try getting referrals from friends, family members, and maybe competitors about the best lawyers in the area.

This is a good step as it helps you hire the right lawyer for your small business.

The interview (yourself and the potential lawyer)

After you’ve researched and come out with one or two  possible attorneys, you need to ask yourself or the lawyer certain questions to be sure that you are hiring the best possible solicitor for your business.

You can use the following checklist as a guide to help you determine what kind of questions you should be asking:

  • The lawyer’s years of experience as a general lawyer
  • Their years of experience as a specialist lawyer (for your small business type)
  • Get to know a little about their previous clients
  • Know the times bills will be paid to the lawyer
  • Know the mode of communication between you and the lawyer

These are questions that should guide you in an interview form so that you can get the best lawyer for your small business.

Getting a lawyer for a small business is not easy. However, with a keen attention to the checklist provided above, you are on the path to an excellent, innovative lawyer.

Bankruptcy Lawyer: Your Last Solution When Running Out Of Options

The very first thing anyone who intends on filing for bankruptcy needs to do is educate themselves on what bankruptcy is and isn’t. That knowledge will be very helpful in helping you chose the right bankruptcy attorney. People are often in a hurry to get the process over with as quickly as possible, and in so doing they neglect to do a few fundamental and important things that is essential to a proper bankruptcy filing and process.

By definition, the moment you, or the court declares you or your business to be bankrupt, it simply means and implies your inability to meet or settle your debts after doing all you reasonably can to meet them.

While there are different variations and types of bankruptcies, and consequently a correspondingly different legal process for each type, each type of legal process to be followed will obviously be determined by the type and cause of your bankruptcy, which will often be determined by the courts.

The immediate consequence of declaring bankruptcy is the fact that pretty much all lines of credit will now to closed to you. Although there is an increasing amount of ads online claiming to be able to offer an individual items on credit, even if they have poor or no credit, which oftentimes is the definition of bankruptcy, although not always.

It should however be pointed out that, even though a finalized bankruptcy process eventually means you would no longer be liable to settle any debts you may have, in many cases, this does not exclude any unpaid taxes you may owe the IRS. There are however certain instances when a bankruptcy declaration will wipe out any income taxes owing.

Another debt that does not get discharged after a bankruptcy declaration is any alimony obligation, which often falls under “domestic support obligations.”

As you can probably tell from the above, it is easy to fall into despair considering how complex the process can get, which is where a bankruptcy lawyer comes in.— Perhaps the very first rule of selecting a bankruptcy attorney is that it must be someone you are comfortable working with. You need to make sure that you have the right chemistry. Remember that money is often one of the most sensitive topics people generally don’t like talking about, especially when it involves their own finances. Therefore it is safe to assume that that sensitivity will also come to play when talking to someone who is an absolute stranger. So essentially, there has to be a lot of trust between the two of you. There have sadly been reported cases of clients withholding information from their attorney, something which ended up negatively affecting the outcome of the process.

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Perhaps the very first step in building that trust between the two of you is making sure you know as much as possible about this attorney. So be sure to interview him and ask as much question as you need to ask to get to know who you will be dealing with. And be sure to seek clarification from anything that is unclear to you. And of course, if there isn’t the chemistry that has previously been spoken about, be sure to keep looking until someone whom that chemistry is present.

If you don’t feel comfortable talking with a particular bankruptcy lawyer, look for another one. You can visit the local bar association to find out their recommendation.

Lastly, one of the very first things you will need to do when you have settled on a choice of attorney is to compile a list of creditors that you are indebted to, so he can have a sense of the scale of your situation.

Classifying Your Small Business Employee

In this article, we will be discussing how to properly classify a small business employee (Employee classification). I know this might sound as a scary topic, but I’m going to take it from the top. If an employer needs someone to help him get a job done, he obviously needs to hire someone or several people, depending on how big the business is. He also has to decide whether that person is going to be an employee or an independent contractor, the difference is significant for a number of reasons.

Classifying Your Small Business Employee (employee classification)

Full time employee: Is any employee that averages 30+ hrs per week, any employee that works 130 hrs in his calendar per month. 

Part time employee: Is any employee who averages less than 30 hrs per week or less than 130 hrs a calendar per month.

Independent contractor: Is someone who’s in a business for himself who provides services to other people or businesses.

Department of labor classification states “to determine whether the worker is economically dependent on the employer (and thus he’s an employee), or really in a business for him or herself (and thus he’s an independent contractor)”.


So if someone is working for you and you have reason to believe that you are their only source of income, you need to classify that person as an employee, another thing you need to consider is, does that person have an opportunity for profit or loss just like your business does, if they don’t, instead they make more money by simply working more hours for you, then, they are your employee, something else you can consider is whether they’re integral to your business, if they’re not, then, they are independent contractor.

First of all if it’s an employee you probably know you have to make numerous filing throughout the year, you have to deal with workers compensation and other things like that. It seems like a daunting task for small business, particularly start-ups. On the other hand, you probably must have heard of independent contractors, it is very easy in comparison, they just have to sign an agreement that shows they’re independent contractors, they have to take care of their taxes, you have to report their income, it seems so simple but sadly it’s extraordinarily risky, you really have to properly determine whether the person working for you is an employee or an independent contractor.

Why should it be done correctly?

It should be done correctly, because government agencies are really working together and they are also working very hard enforcing penalties, interest and other obligations if they find out that you mis-classified your employee and independent contractor, you might be wondering why they care. They care for a few reasons, the department of labor among others care for the reason that there are protections that your employee deserve under law, such as overtime pay, minimum wage, unemployment compensation and workers compensation so they want to be sure that the people who should get those benefits gets them.

Secondly, the government wants revenue, so if you haven’t classified or mis-classified, the truth is that the government entities that would get this money aren’t getting them.

The reality of this situation is if you have mis-classified an employee as an independent contractor the financial penalties are severe, you’ll have to pay everything you should have paid to them to the government as though they have been an employee all along, you’ll also be looking at fines and interest, and that is why it should be done carefully and correctly.

10 Small Business Expenses That Are Tax Deductible

A lot of small business owners don’t take tax planning seriously. It is overwhelming and it is a boring topic so a lot of people avoid it. It is a very easy predicament to get into and just say “I’m not gonna talk about tax, I’m not gonna worry about it, and if I do, it will be that one time in a year when I call my account manager to do my taxes”. The sad part is that it’s a big mistake you’re making because it is a large expense on small business and if we don’t take it seriously and do better planning, it can cause the collapse of your business.

It is also something that can create a lot of stress for you, therefore it is sad that most people don’t take it seriously and give it the attention it deserves. So many people sadly do not take advantage of those basic deductions in small business that they are allowed to. The provision in the tax law says that if those basic deductions are related to business so we can write them off.

Business deductions are company expenses, generally you pay tax on your business’s profit not revenue, so if you make $10 and have expenses of $4($10-$4=$6) you only pay taxes on $6, this means that the more expenses you record the less taxes you will pay.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re just starting or you are an established entrepreneur, saving thousands of dollars is absolutely achievable through tax deduction. Below are the 10 small business expenses that are tax deductible;

  1. Vehicle Expenses: You’ll have to purchase/pick up supplies, find new locations, drop off supplies, don’t forget you have to pick up lunch for yourself and your employee.The cost of gas or fuel consumed during pick up or supply can be deductible. The cost of fuel consumed during visits to client for meeting is not left out as well
  2. Admin Expenses: Admin expenses such as business license, certification, and entity formation, not to forget business insurance could be written off by keeping a detailed record of them.
  3. Home Office: This has to do with cost associated with running the business from your home some home expenses are completely deductible if only you are working from home, a portion of your rent, mortgage interest, utilities such as; electricity, water, gas, trash, sewer, HOA fees, maintenance or home repairs and even home improvement. These expenses based on the percentage of the square footage in your home used exclusively for business.
  4. Operating Expenses: There are things that entails running a business efficiently, such as supplies, the cost of advertisement that involves creating promotional materials; radio advertisement, Facebook advertisements, banner advertisements and yellow pages are absolutely deductible.
  5. Travel Expenses: You can write off a part of the flight fare that you spent to and from a business trip. The meeting with the customer, vendor, a conference, maybe an annual corporate meeting, the money spent on laundry, Lodging, fax charges. Thus your travel should include record of the money you spent on a business trip.
  6. Dinning: Make sure you’re tracking all those meals by yourself when you are traveling or when you’re talking business with someone.
  7. Technology: Your gadgets, yes, you need that gadget for your business; your smartphone, laptop. Internet charges form your ISP, phone Call charges are deductible if it is frequently used to contact your customers or clients, and money spent on these are completely deductible.
  8. Materials for educational purposes: Books bought for educational purpose, to learn new skills or improve on an existing skill that would have direct influence on your business. The fee paid for a professional program/course that is related to your business are completely deductible.
  9. Employee Expenses: Of no doubt, most small business owners have employees which are paid on monthly basis, at such, wages paid to them are deductible. Your income should be reported IRS in order to deduct your employee business expenses.
  10. Assets/Equipment: These are the items that are used over and over again anytime your business is open for customers. The equipment you use on daily basis and the cost of its maintenance can be deductible.

Are Prenuptial Agreements Affected by Changed Circumstances?

A Prenuptial Agreement is a contract between two capable adults and the terms of the contract are not to be revised. However, the terms become a point of contention when the adults concerned are in the process of invoking its terms.

It is important to note that contracts between two individuals who are married or are to be married is much different to a contract for goods or services and thus is not contract attorney work. The New Jersey Supreme Court case, Lepis V. Lepis, made a vital loophole where people could make additions in prenuptial agreements. The changes enabled modifications of family support provisions, regardless of whether they were ordered by the Court or stipulated by the parties. For these changes to be made, there needs to be a substantial and relevant change in position. The changes in position are to be unforeseen, significant and long-lasting. The powder keg language of Lepis reads as follows: “Contract principles have little place in the law of domestic relations.” However, divorce lawyers must note attention to five key points.

First, suitably constructed prenuptial agreements are given presumption of validity. In other words, the parties were independently represented by legal counsel, no coercion or duress in agreeing to the terms, there was suitable level of financial disclosure, and that the contract was fundamentally fair. When one party wants to enforce the terms of the contract, there needs to be evidence that shows the contract is in some way unacceptable by the party inquest to avoid enforcement. Or else, the prenuptial agreement should be imposed.

Second, a prenuptial agreement will not be considered to be unacceptable unless it can be proved that the result of the enforcement will be a drop in a standard of living for any party that is extremely below that which was enjoyed before the marriage.

Third, following the Supreme Court’s finding in Lepis, divorce attorneys came up with the idea of incorporating anti-Lepis clauses into their property settlement agreements. These kind of clauses can be used for all prenuptial agreements. This can avert alimony obligations, or can ostensibly limit them in the event of divorce. But the anti-Lepis clause can be the subject of an adjustment motion. Unfortunately, sometimes these clauses are enforceable, and sometimes they are not; it would be best to consult a specialist such as a contract litigation attorney.

Fourth, Marchall v. Marchall is a good read for those who wish to contest a New York ante-nuptial agreement. In this instance, the Court stated that ante-nuptial agreements should be viewed as subject to adjustment by reason of “changed circumstances” in the same manner as property settlement agreements.

Fifth, Pacelli v. Pacelli must also be examined where a mid-nuptial agreement was drafted 11 years after their marriage and after having two children. The Appellate Division refused to enforce this agreement. The Appellant’s finding was that the agreement was unfair when it was entered into in 1986 and likewise unfair when enforcement was sought in 1994. The Court did not believe that such mid-nuptial agreements should be dealt the same way ante-nuptial agreements are dealt with. The Appellate Division opined that “the dynamics and pressures involved in a mid-marriage context are quantitatively different.”

Prenuptial agreements that are effected under circumstances without coercion or duress and where the requirements of the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act are met, Lepis should not apply, and the agreement should not be altered. The only exception would be under the inconceivable standard of the act. Nevertheless, that is the exact same standard that was used for modification of New Jersey matrimonial agreements prior to Lepis, under Schiff v. Schiff.