It seems like, at one time or another, everyone's had that "light bulb moment."

That moment where the mental clouds part and a ray of brilliance shines down, leading you to a great idea for a new or improved product or service.  You think about it in the shower, while driving to work, and as you're laying in bed trying to fall sleep.  You search the internet for an idea like yours, assuming that you couldn't possibly be the first person to ever think of it.

Finally, after spending nearly every free moment mulling it over, you decide to go for it and start your own business.  Maybe your primary goal is to take over the world as a corporate dynamo, buying Fortune 500 companies left and right; maybe your goal is simply to live comfortably, to see your product in homes across the world, or to help put your kids through college.  Whatever your reasons for wanting to go into business, you should have a knowledgeable and caring attorney that can advise you during the process and help you achieve your goals.

Maybe you're already a successful business owner looking to expand, hire employees, lease commercial space, or enter into contracts with other businesses.  A serious mistake at this point—for example, a poorly-drafted contract, an unenforceable employment agreement, or a lease that exposes you to substantial liability—could be very costly and jeopardize everything you've worked for.

Whether you're a seasoned entrepreneur or just starting your first company, you should have an attorney dedicated to protecting your rights.

The firm provides the following business/corporate law services:

For both new and experienced entrepreneurs, determining what type of business entity to use can be one of the most important decisions made.  Choosing an incorrect or inappropriate entity type could lead to several problems with corporate ownership, the ability to obtain or maintain financing or transact business, regulatory compliance, and many other issues, including serious potential tax liability.

However, forming a business properly is only part of the equation; in the event it is later shut down or ceases to do business, the legal process is not as simple as just "shutting the doors."  There may be equipment and assets to liquidate, creditors to be notified, leases to terminate, filings with the government, and other actions required by the company's owners or officers.  This process can be very daunting and difficult to maneuver without legal assistance, and failure to complete this process correctly can lead to, among other things, the owners being personally liable for the company's debts and obligations.

Many business owners dream of the day they can hire their first employee.  It's often seen as a mark of a successful business, much like opening a second location or bringing on investors.  However, there are a lot of factors to consider before making that decision, including:

  1. Should I use employees or independent contractors?
  2. Would they be entitled to receive benefits such as healthcare, paid or unpaid leave, vacation time, etc.?
  3. What procedures need to be followed to ensure taxes, payroll, and accounting are done correctly?
  4. Are there any workplace regulations, occupational licenses, or other requirements that need to be complied with?
  5. How can I or should I discipline employees to reduce the risk of a wrongful termination or similar lawsuit in the future?

Although these are very important issues that can have devastating effects on a business if handled incorrectly, this does not mean at all that having employees is "not worth the trouble."  However, these questions, along with several others, should be answered beforehand to avoid any "surprises" later.

Some types of businesses get most of their value from tangible property, like equipment, goods for sale, or real estate, but companies would be ill-advised to ignore the value they get from intangibles, such as a company logo, slogan, website, or other work.  These intangibles can help provide a business's positive reputation and brand recognition.  As the internet and smartphone marketplaces expand, these assets will become increasingly valuable as even small brick-and-mortar stores turn to online sales and advertising.

For other businesses (especially now with the proliferation of mobile apps), almost all of their value comes from intangible sources.  These assets can range from accounts receivable and promissory notes to computer code and artistic designs.  Much like buying insurance on tangible assets like cars, you should protect the value of your intangible assets as well.  This could mean obtaining an effective trademark on your corporate logo or slogan, licensing your manufacturing process or computer code to other businesses, or having employees with access to sensitive information sign a legally-binding nondisclosure agreement to protect trade secrets.

Failing to protect your intellectual property in a timely manner can mean losing a significant current or potential income source and could possibly lead to the failure of your business.

The term "business transaction" can mean many different things.  It includes a standard sale (where cash is exchanged for property), securing a debt with collateral and executing a promissory note, an in-kind transfer where property is exchanged, and other methods.  They are the lifeblood of any business and underlie how the company uses its assets to make money.  Because of their importance to the business's success, a business owner must be very careful when entering into business transactions and ensure its terms match the owner's expectations.

When a business transaction goes south, on the other hand, the business owner may need to enforce her rights as a creditor to lien or recover property or collect on a debt.  In many cases, the law requires a creditor to take certain steps before she can recover or collect, such as providing notice to the debtor and other creditors as well as complying with various statutes and regulations.

 An effective and skilled legal advisor can help you navigate this difficult terrain and protect your interests.

HLO also provides general drafting and review services for contracts and other agreements in addition to the above-listed areas.

Some sample areas and matters on which HLO provides these services:

  • Business formation and termination documents;
  • Partnership and joint venture agreements;
  • Employment and independent contractor agreements;
  • Corporate governance, internal controls, and regulatory compliance plans;
  • Antitrust and unfair competition, including noncompete and nondisclosure agreements;
  • Intellectual property protection, including copyrights, trademarks, service marks, and trade secrets;
  • Licensing and protection of phone, web, and internet applications;
  • Asset transfers, secured transactions, and UCC filings; and
  • Corporate financing and capital structure agreements.

This list is not exhaustive so please contact HLO if the services you would like are not listed to discuss whether the firm offers them.

In order to fully protect a client's rights or expectations, sometimes litigation is unavoidable. HLO provides general litigation services and support whether it is to pursue or defend a claim, collect on a judgment, or recover collateral or other property.  This includes filing or responding to lawsuits, motion practice, discovery, and trial work.

Some businesses might need legal services only once a year while others may need them once a month or even more often.  Through HLO's General Counsel Program, clients can pay a standard monthly fee for continuous legal services for their business depending on their needs and related practice areas.

Please contact HLO for more information.