It's 2022. Lawyers are not just for big box corporations. We live in Louisiana and the artistry and creativity here abounds. That is why we are here to tell our fellow creatives that lawyers are not scary and you should not be afraid to talk to one for your Slidell small business.
All of them. No, seriously. No one is immune from needing a lawyer. But since we know you love bullet points, here are some of the industries that we have seen come through our doors. They tend to need some of the most protection to protect the artist's intellectual property too so it makes sense.
The simple answer? To save you long-term headaches, make sure people don't profit off your ideas, and get you paid.
A little more complex of an answer? For those who have online boutiques or services---- you have a whole lot more competition and regulations to adhere to. Have a lawyer explain all the risks and rewards to you before you jump feet first into the adventure. Or, if you already have, make sure you know how to protect yourself. The bigger the platform and customer base, the fatter your wallet, but it also comes with it's own set of risks too. Erry' body can see you. If you didn't check to see if someone has a trademark/copyright on what you're selling or doing....well, you just popped up on their radar. Whoopsies.
Having a lawyer will help you get your ducks in a row. Operating Agreement, Tax ID, permits, sales tax, and licenses: if you don't have these done properly, then you may find yourself in a whole lot of hot water or owing cash. They can also direct you to the right insurance for your business because trust us: you're going to need it. You will have documents like client agreements, service agreements, operating agreements, refund policies, license agreements, and employee manuals all ready to go rather than scrambling to get it done when asked for it by a client, investor, or partner. We can also help you with estate planning to make sure your business and assets are left to who you want them to go to.
Fox Mulder was right, yall. "Trust No One". Before you even open your mouth to anyone about a new idea, new business, or investing in your own----- get a lawyer to draft up a Confidentiality Agreement (sometimes called a NDA- don't worry we wrote all about it before so just click here). That way if someone jacks your idea or methods, you are able to file an injunction to stop them AND get damages. The same thing goes for anyone you hire or partner with for a limited run of your product, event, or class. That's YOUR intellectual property and know-how. In the words of Gandalf the Gray, "keep it secret; keep it safe."
Lawyers can also keep you trademark your business name, product lines, and logos. For those who use the written word or media, they can help you with copyrighting too. We wrote a big ol' article on the trademark process and its benefits so we won't bore you with that again. If you are smart about it, you'll get with a lawyer BEFORE you slap that logo everywhere or start drafting website content so we can make sure you CAN trademark or copyright in the future. It saves you a whole lot of cash in the long-run, yall.
Client agreements or service agreements (depending on what you want to call it) lay out the scope of your services, refund policy, charge back policy, inclement weather policy, how you get paid, when you get paid, auto debit policy, who owns rights to what you make, and when the client can expect delivery. For the partnerships or licensing agreements it lays out what you can expect from your partner like their own duties and profit splits. That's the tip of the iceberg but yall get the gist. That agreement is essentially the playbook for how yall are going to work together.
Let the lawyer be the "bad guy" when your clients or partnerships for events don't like your contract. That way you keep the relationships with them preserved. After all, us lawyers are just terrible human beings. Keep that cliche going if it means you secure the bag.
In the event the client doesn't pay, then your lawyer can send a demand letter with proper notice that will hold up in court if you need to sue the client for payment. Any lawyer worth their salt will try to resolve the issue without litigation but sometimes you just have to go to collections or court. Oh, did we mention the agreements a lawyer drafts will have you getting reimbursed for those collection, court, and lawyer's fees?
Do you have ambassadors or give out discount codes for them? You best get an ambassador agreement laying out how often that person should post, what they should post, and how to terminate the agreement if they start acting in a way that hurts your brand/
Your lawyer is going to know other like-minded businesses or organizations in town (or nationally). Take advantage of that human Rolodex--- within ethical rules.
Did you know there are things you can't ask someone in a job interview? If that scares you, read this EEOC Complaint article we wrote then come back here. A lawyer can draft up an ADA compliant application form for you to use in job interviews.
A good Mandeville business lawyer can also help you navigate whether you should make an individual an employee or an independent contractor. Failure to appropriately classify that worker can cause you a whole lot of fines. Yes, we have an article about that too.
Lawyers can also create Employee manuals and standard operating procedures for you. Some companies like the lawyer to handle firing employees or contractors or at least consult with them about what to say and do.
There are lots of things you can post online that can be used against you if you get sued. Lawyers are here to help prevent that from happening. Having a lawyer on retainer or at your disposal, as long as you reach out before you react, sure will keep you in check on the internet and in your business. They can tell you if what you want to post about a situation, other business, or advertisement is a good idea or not. For those creatives who have licensure boards or are governed by the SEC, your lawyer should be well versed in your ethics guidelines as well (looking at our dieticians and content managers).
Understanding you have limited resources but may need an attorney more often than you think in your business endeavors, we offer retainers for our small business and corporate clients that includes monthly meeting with you and your attorney, document review, legal opinions, notary services, and discounts.
Have a limited budget and just need a one-off service (like generating a document, forming a business, contract negotiations)? Then you likely need our flat fee service. If you have a legal issue that may require more time and attention but isn't in our flat rate service package don't worry-- we have hourly rates that won’t break your bank.
For the smallest budget, there is always the tried and true up to one hour paid long consultation.
Please note that this entire article, as everything else on this Sheppard Law website, is the intellectual property of Amber Sheppard and Sheppard Law and should not be reproduced in any fashion without explicit written permission.