Information for individuals considering starting a business or non-profit and a summary of the legal issues you may face.
Many individuals and organizations are unaware of the benefits that an attorney can provide for their business. An attorney can help you successfully navigate numerous issues and transactions, including formation, real estate leases, taxes, licenses, governance, employment, and many more considerations.
The decision to incorporate your business, for example, impacts its structure, taxes, operations, liability – to name only a few considerations. Did you know that an attorney can explain the basic benefits and consequences of forming a business? If you work with a partner, do you have a formal written agreement describing the relationship? An attorney can assist you in creating your business and understanding the formalities involved. An attorney can also:
On-going businesses need constant assessment of their operations, management, finances, and policies to ensure that they are operating at their best capacity. Are you aware that an attorney can provide essential support to operating businesses? An attorney can:
Leases of commercial space, such as offices and retail stores, are often complex documents that are drafted to benefit the landlord. Did you know that your rights and remedies are limited to what the lease expressly states? An attorney can help you explore all of your options before you sign a lease, and:
Your business’ formational documents, along with many state laws, describe the proper roles, responsibilities and activities for your company’s Board of Directors. An attorney can advise your Board of these obligations, as well as provide appropriate board training to ensure that the directors understand and will comply with their fiduciary duties. An attorney can also help your business to acquire director and officer liability insurance.
Non-profits must comply with many obligations that do not affect for-profit companies. An attorney can advise your not-for-profit on incorporation and tax exemption matters, such as:
Did you know that when a business or individual considers raising capital, its decisions may implicate contract law, federal and state securities laws, and corporate law? An attorney can advise you on your financing options, by:
An attorney can provide essential assistance in managing the many legal issues that employees and independent contractors create for a business. An attorney can:
Create independent contractor agreements for all third party contractor relationships
Has your business made an oral agreement with a customer, vendor, or employee? Did you know that not all verbal promises are legally enforceable?
An attorney can advise you on your rights and obligations if you have entered into an oral agreement. An attorney can also draft written agreements for your business to use when contracting with others, to ensure that it is protected against non-performance.
The laws on cyberspace, websites, and the internet are constantly changing. If you have a website or conduct business online, you need to be aware of your legal obligations. An attorney can help you to understand the many legal issues that your business may face in connection with its website, including:
An attorney can register your trademarks, slogans, and any other intellectual property that your business owns, with the proper state and federal authorities.
For help starting small businesses or non-profits in New York City contact the Community Development Project at 212-298-3340 or email: CommunityDevProject@legal-aid.org.
The information in this document has been prepared by The Legal Aid Society for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. This information is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. You should not act upon any information without retaining professional legal counsel.
Last Updated: 5 April 2023
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