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  • Erin Holliday

How Can a Transactional Business Lawyer Help My Company?

A Few Things You Might Not Know We Can Do

Fortunately, most of a small business’ daily operations don’t involve calling your lawyer. It involves serving customers, building awesome stuff, solving problems, bettering the community, or all of the above. As transactional lawyers, we can help with all that fun (and even the not-always-fun). We are here to help keep those ships sailing on the day-to-day, whether that’s employment counseling, business sales and purchases, drafting, negotiating and protecting you through your contracts, or helping you protect your company in many other ways.

Simply put, we love being small business transactional lawyers at Trellis because we get to help people with their ongoing business needs on a regular basis. Transactional lawyers don’t file lawsuits or defend businesses in court, but instead, we work through contracts, negotiations, purchases, leases, sales, settlements, and non-court resolutions. And especially here at Trellis, we understand that business transactions involve, and must support, invaluable relationships. So we’re here to help you get started, find solutions, think proactively, and provide legal counseling through tough situations.

Here are a few more things you may not know that we do:

1. Lease Advocacy – From the First Draft to Signature to Termination

We represent businesses like restaurants, retail stores, farmers, and more in drafting, negotiating, reviewing, and helping them understand how to terminate (if it comes to it) their commercial leases or leases for farmland. We’re here to help in whatever capacity our clients need, whether that’s being with them every step of the way from the first review through negotiating with the landlord, or just coming in to provide general advice. Commercial leases are different from residential ones because the landlord can put much more responsibility, including damages, certificates of occupancy, build-out, and taxes on the tenant. A poorly drafted or negotiated commercial lease can end up being costly, and frustrating, and can harm the future of the business. Read our free resource on Opening a Brick and Mortar for more information on getting your business into a physical location.

2. Contract Reviews - Helping You Understand Your Obligations and Pointing out Red Flags

Many people know we can help them draft contracts for their business needs – whether that’s through the template library or by custom drafting one for their use. You may not have thought about when you’ve been handed a contract and you’re not sure how much you’re able to change or negotiate, or you’re really not sure what you’re about to sign. We’re happy to take a look at any contract for you, whether it’s an NDA/non-compete, a licensing agreement for your artwork, an independent contractor agreement, or anything else. You can scope our review for what you need. Some clients have us review and flag the highlights for them so they can simply understand their rights and obligations. Others have us review their non-compete terms before taking on another side gig. Some clients ask “what’s missing?” And we give them a few considerations to add (also see our blog on 5 important contract clauses). And some have us review, markup, and negotiate a better contract for their needs. We are also happy to take a look at and update a contract you wrote yourself and are ready to have attorney eyes on (we’ll never judge you for DIYing or what you’ve been using so don’t be scared to reach out!)

3. Change of Ownership - Adding or Removing

Businesses change. We pass our ownership to our kids, we bring on new owners and partners, we leave our own ownership behind for new ventures (and adventures!), we take on investors, and the list goes on. But these things can get complicated and confusing without someone there to help you understand both your legal obligations (for example, buying and selling ownership in a company may bring in securities law requirements) and how to protect your rights and desires.

4. Buying or Selling a Business

Similar to changing ownership, you may be interested in buying an existing business or selling your own. We can help you through this complex process to help make sure everyone is on the same page, the terms are clear and set in stone, you’ve done your due diligence, complied with any filing requirements, and you’re getting what you want out of the deal (or are willing to compromise on). We can help you understand buying a business’s assets alone – like their space, name, machines, and goodwill – versus buying a business’s equity – the current owner’s ownership in the business and including everything the business owns and all the responsibilities that come with it, including its liabilities and debts. Download our Buying a Business resource for more of the steps involved with buying and selling a business and reach out to us when ready.

5. General Research

Am I doing this right? What are my options in this situation? How do I know if I’m in compliance? Your transactional business lawyer is a tool for helping you understand general legal and compliance questions, to help you understand various options and potential outcomes, and triage our research findings for what you’re most comfortable with. We don’t always know the exact answer right when you call us, but we usually know where to look and we pride ourselves on breaking it down so you can understand our findings.

A few examples of legal questions you may want research help with:

  • What do I need to do to follow updated food safety rules?

  • What policies should I have in place for my employees?

  • Am I able to host weddings and other events on my farm? Is my property one where I can farm or have a market stand?

  • Is my property zoned properly for what I want to do? Can I get a zoning variance?

  • Did I form my entity correctly? Am I missing anything?

  • And so much more, just give us a call or shoot us an email! Your first 30-minute consultation is free, and we’ll be able to let you know if your question is something in our wheelhouse or help you find the right person.

Remember transactional lawyers are there to help support you and your business!

DISCLAIMER: This blog post is meant for informational purposes only and does not constitute specific legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. Readers should discuss their specific situation with an attorney.

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