To avoid breaking the law and to spot opportunities permitted by law, entrepreneurs need expert legal help. One of the entrepreneur’s earliest acts should be to consult a lawyer. Only a lawyer can help resolve the maze of legal issues ranging from questions having to do with whether to incorporate to questions having to do with the rights of consumers.
Entrepreneurs need not necessarily consider every issue. The complexity of the entrepreneur’s venture determines which questions must be dealt with.
Often, entrepreneurs feel they need a lawyer only when they are sued or when they sue others. This attitude is indefensible. Lawyers are by no means merely actors in tense courtroom dramas; in fact, many lawyers never set foot in a courtroom. We have a more creative role to advise entrepreneurs in such a way that it may never be necessary to go to court.
The best remedy for legal mistakes is to avoid making them. Perhaps the most apt way to describe the lawyer’s role is as a kind of preventive medicine.
Choosing the right lawyer
It is imperative that entrepreneurs obtain competent legal advice months before they plan to launch their venture. And they should be careful in choosing a lawyer. A common mistake is to select someone recommended by friends, neighbours, or relatives whose needs for legal help may differ sharply from those of the entrepreneur. Often the personal lawyers of family or friends do not know much about new ventures, although they may be quite knowledgeable about other aspects of the law.
Once they choose the right lawyer, entrepreneurs are mistaken if they sit back and leave all the decision making to their lawyer. My main job is to advise and inform the entrepreneur. Only the entrepreneur should make the legal decisions, based on information provided by the lawyer. To do that wisely, the entrepreneur should become familiar with the law. In the words of Dr Patrick R. Liles, formerly of the Harvard Business School:
“A major difficulty for the inexperienced entrepreneur is the host of strange terms and phrases which are scattered throughout most legal documents. The novice in this kind of reading should have some understanding not only of what is contained in such documents, but also why these provisions have been included.
If an entrepreneur cannot find the time or take the interest to read and understand the major contracts into which his company will enter, he should be very cautious about being an entrepreneur at all…”
BLOMKAMP COX Barristers and Solicitors practice extensively in the areas of business/commercial law, property and trusts. We have specialist knowledge in real estate development and subdivision areas (including retail, residential and commercial) along with structuring property joint ventures and investment vehicles, forestry transactions, due diligence, company and partnership formation, business and property sales, purchases, and financial arrangements.