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There are endless jokes about lawyers, who somehow always seem to get blamed for the problems of the world. Here’s one vote for the value of good attorneys and the role their expertise can play in helping a small business be successful. In my experience, legal issues are some of the most complicated areas an entrepreneur will deal with, simply because there are so many pitfalls, rules, and regulations to worry about. Legal problems can paralyze a company; seeking the advice of an attorney provides you with a good foundation for dealing with such problems as they inevitably arise.
One of the best pieces of advice I ever received from an attorney was to write down and document everything. All too often business owners enter into an agreement with a partner, extend a job offer to a potential employee, or conduct a regular review with an employee empty-handed. While these are common occurrences in a small business, they can come back to cause serious problems in the absence of proper documentation. Let’s use the case of an employee review for an example. As the employer, you may point out all of an employee’s strengths but fail to point out weaknesses, such as regularly showing up late. If you later reach the breaking point and fire that employee, a lack of accurate records could easily cause trouble: That employee could come back and show your positive comments to make a case against you, possibly suing for wrongful termination or seeking unemployment benefits, which can be very costly to your business.
In such scenarios, the advice of a good attorney can save you precious time and money, allowing you to focus on what you do best—run your businesses.
T. Craig Bott
President & Chief Executive Officer
Grow Utah Ventures
Salt Lake City
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