There are many moments in the life of a business when legal issues arise, and it is at these times that you need a business lawyer Middletown, CT business owners rely on from Eric Lindh Foster Law, LLC. Finding and partnering with an attorney you trust is a great way to ensure that you and your business have the tools and advice you need to be successful at every stage of your company’s evolution.
The experienced Connecticut legal team at Eric Lindh Foster Law, LLC offers a wide variety of transactional services, representation, and advice that will benefit your enterprise as long as you remain in business. We also take great pride in helping companies “get off the ground,” even before they’ve been legally recognized as for-profit or non-profit enterprises.
Starting a Business and Entity Formation
You’ve got a great idea and an entrepreneurial spirit, but it takes more than that to get your venture off the ground. You’ll need smart business-related legal planning through an attorney-client partnership with an experienced lawyer. Our firm’s team is ready to discuss your business idea and help you choose the most appropriate structure for your company. Options include:
- Sole proprietorships
- Partnerships and limited partnerships
- Limited liability companies (LLCs)
- Non-stock corporations
The type of structure you choose will influence everything about your business, from how you pay taxes to your level of liability if the business runs into trouble down the road. There are advantages and disadvantages to each formation option. It’s therefore important to weigh these opportunities carefully, as one or more may align with your vision for your company and one or more probably won’t.
Generally speaking, corporations have the strictest reporting requirements, managerial structures, and taxation obligations. These entities are not independently owned, but belong to shareholders. This isn’t to say that if you form a corporation that it must be publicly traded. However, you will need to adhere to the strict managerial, reporting, and taxation requirements tied to corporate ownership. One of the primary upsides to choosing a corporate structure is that liability for business debt, fines, penalties, and judgments are almost never passed along to shareholders personally.
By contrast, sole proprietorships and partnerships have flexible managerial requirements and minimal reporting obligations. However, these structures don’t benefit from a strong personal liability shield. Additionally, owners are usually taxed on their personal returns, which isn’t an ideal scenario for all business owners.
Limited liability companies, in many ways, represent the “happy medium” between corporations and sole proprietorships and partnerships. These entities feature a significant liability shield for owners (called members) and they benefit from far less rigid managerial and reporting responsibilities when compared to corporations. LLCs may be owned by a single member or multiple members and may be taxed personally or like corporations are.
When to Visit a Business Lawyer
When it comes to having your own business, there are so many things that can go right or go wrong. Whether you are a new or seasoned business owner, there are legal issues that can make your life more complicated. Unless you are running your business operation just by yourself, employees are going to help make your goals a reality. But, having employees also means that legal problems can flare up and lead to a serious legal dispute.
Some examples of issues that are more common in workplaces and require assistance from a Connecticut business lawyer in Middletown include the following:
- FMLA Leave
- Fair Wages
- Overtime Pay
- Safe Workplace
Understanding Changing Laws
We encourage business owners to revisit their business operation each year, as every year new laws may go into effect. Business owners must stay up-to-date on new regulations that can impact their business. It is essential that business owners comply with laws, regardless of how much of a nuisance this can be to keep up with. Thankfully, there are legal professionals such as those from our office who can help you and answer questions that may arise.
Maintain Professional Employee Relationships
When a business starts, agreements tend to be informal. However, as a business grows you may need to add more people to your company. If you do not have a clear and strong contract for a new employee to sign, disagreements can turn into legal disputes later on. What may have begun as an informal business relationship can quickly turn hostile and jeopardize your business. A lawyer from our team can help you create an employment contract that protects your best interests.
Staying Informed on Business Taxes
Business taxes are just a part of life, so the best thing we can do is have someone to turn to who is knowledgeable in business taxes specifically. When you own a business, there are several taxes to be aware of and it’s imperative that you are compliant with laws. Your type of business and location can influence how much in taxes you need to file or register for.
Protecting Your Business Name
Establishing a brand is equally as important as the product or services you are selling. It is vital that you hold onto the right of your business name and domain for a website, in addition to your social media accounts. If you choose a name for your company before looking into the availability of the name, it can lead to customer confusion and issues with another business that has an alike name.
What to Look for in a Business Lawyer
No matter what type of company you run, it’s important to have a business lawyer Middletown, Connecticut residents trust on your side. However, with so many different lawyers out there, how do you choose the right one? Here are a few qualities to look for:
- Experience: When looking for a business lawyer, select one who has at least several years of experience with the legal matter you’re dealing with. For instance, if you need to draft a contract, don’t hire a lawyer who only has experience with employee matters. The more experience your lawyer has with the issue at hand, the better job he or she will do for you.
- Knowledge of Your Industry: If possible, try to find a lawyer who knows the ins and outs of your industry. Some industries have more complex regulations, and it’s important for your lawyer to be well aware of them. Your lawyer should know exactly what your business does and the types of products and services you provide. This way, he or she can build a better legal strategy. For instance, if you’re in charge of a construction company, your lawyer should have extensive knowledge about city ordinances and zoning laws.
- Communicative: Business legal matters can be quite complex, so it’s important to have a lawyer who has good communication skills. A business lawyer in Middletown, CT should always be clear and direct and inform you of all your options. You shouldn’t leave a meeting feeling confused and full of questions.
- Available: A business lawyer could be very experienced and skilled, but if he or she is too busy to give your case the attention it deserves, things might not work out. For example, if your lawyer often takes several days to return your calls, you may want to hire a different lawyer.
- Problem Solver: When you enlist the help of a business lawyer, you typically are dealing with some type of problem. That’s why it’s important to select a lawyer who offers solutions, not compromises. He or she should provide guidance and comprehensive solutions designed to protect your best interests.
- Credible: A business lawyer in Middletown, CT should have a good reputation with past and current clients. In addition to looking at online reviews and getting word-of-mouth referrals, ask a lawyer for at least three references before making a hiring decision.
Working with a Lawyer After a Breach of Contract
When you created your business, one of the things you may have known would come up eventually are breaches of contract. These most often happen with business partners, clients, or another party you are working with. For example, many companies choose to contract work out or they may use another company for their goods and services. When you enter into a contract with this party, you expect them to hold up your end of the deal. You may have stated in your contract that you will pay them for their services and in return, they will be finished with their part of the contract by a certain date. If they do not fulfill this, it may be considered a breach of contract.
Examples of Breaches of Contract
A breach of contract can happen with either party and means that either you or the other party did not live up to the agreed-upon contract. Common contract breaches are:
- Failure to pay for services rendered
- Failure to provide the services one is getting paid for
- Intentionally trying to cause the other party to be unable to fulfill their end of the contract
- Not performing the services within the time frame discussed in the contract
These are just a few of the examples that could mean a breach of contract has occurred. If this is the case, it will be in your best interest to speak with your attorney. They will examine the contract, listen to what each party has provided on their end as part of the contract, and determine if a breach has occurred. When bringing this type of lawsuit forward, there are certain elements your attorney will need to provide. For example, the contract in question must be a legally binding, valid contract. You would then want to show that you have thus far met your end of the requirements for the contract and that the other party has not. Finally, you will need to show evidence that you have notified the other party that there has been a breach of contract.
What kinds of damages can I win in this case?
When you take the other party to court, there are a few options. Some business owners find that they are able to resolve their issues through mediation and that a compromise can be reached. If this does not work, your attorney can represent you in court and fight for both punitive and compensatory damages. In other cases, you may be able to successfully get the other party to uphold their end of the contract.
Common Legal Myths About Starting a Business
There are many myths out there about the legal side of having a business. Believing them could put your business at risk.
- Forming an LLC Will Protect Your Personal Assets: Many business owners choose to classify their company as a limited liability company (LLC). They may assume that with this formation, their personal assets are safe in the event of a lawsuit. Unfortunately, that isn’t necessarily true. If you run into legal trouble at some point, your personal assets may be at risk. You should communicate with your lawyer regularly about protecting your personal assets.
- You Can Write Everything Off: While you can write off certain business expenses when doing your taxes, you can’t write off everything. Before you decide to write off an item, ask yourself if you would have the expense if you weren’t in business. For instance, you can’t just write off every restaurant meal if you weren’t with clients. Be careful about what you write off to avoid an audit.
- If Your Business is Struggling, You Can Just File for Bankruptcy: It’s true that bankruptcy may be a good solution if your business is struggling with debt. However, you should understand that not every debt can be discharged in bankruptcy. For instance, if you have secured creditors, they can still go after your property if you file for bankruptcy. Additionally, if you haven’t paid your business taxes, you won’t be able to discharge that in bankruptcy.
- You Don’t Need to Hire a Business Lawyer: A common mistake many new business owners make it thinking they don’t need to hire a business lawyer in Middletown, CT. However, working with an experienced business lawyer is invaluable for your company. For example, if you want to enter into a contract with another business, you should first have your lawyer review the document to ensure it has your best interests in mind.
- You Can’t Get Sued If You Didn’t Do Anything Wrong: Unfortunately, this isn’t true. Even if you follow the rules, someone may still try to come after you with a lawsuit. That’s why it’s important to always be prepared and contact your lawyer as soon possible if there’s a possible lawsuit against you.
Legal Assistance Is Available
No matter what your specific vision is for your company, you’ll need some legal help to get it off the ground and to ensure that it is as successful and protected as it can possibly be. Our firm would be honored to help you in these endeavors. Please connect with our Middletown, CT business lawyer team today at Eric Lindh Foster Law, LLC; we look forward to assisting you.