If you're a small business owner or are looking to open a small business, you may be able to register for the fictitious name paperwork and reserve a URL for your website on your own, without legal assistance. However, there are times when even the smallest business, including someone who is self-employed, may need to consult with a legal firm for help and advice. Note a few times when you never want to try to handle certain issues alone and when it's good to hire an attorney.
1. When someone is investigating you
Even if someone hasn't yet filed a lawsuit or charged you with a crime related to your business, you want to call an attorney the moment you know your business is being investigated. If someone should decide to sue or you are accused of a business-related crime, it can take quite a long time to prepare your defense. Your attorney may need to go through reams of paperwork about your business itself, not to mention doing research about the accusation or lawsuit.
You also want an attorney to advise you on what not to do so you don't hurt your case, should you go to court. Shredding business paperwork or making statements to former employees might work against you in court, and an attorney can advise on what to avoid doing in these types of cases.
2. When you want to sell your business
Selling your business may mean more than just signing over the name to someone else; you want to know that you're protected from any claims of liability that may arise in the future, and ensure that you have legal recourse if you're not paid as you should be during the sale. There may also be questions about what fixtures, equipment, and property are part of the sale, and you may be restricted from opening another similar business within a certain time frame or location after the sale. An attorney can advise you on how to word the sales agreement properly and ensure your interests are protected through the process.
3. When someone is using your copyrighted information
If someone is using your logo or is recreating a brochure you created without your permission, this can be a violation of your trademark or copyright. If they are using your information in a way that reflects poorly on your business, this can be costing you customers and clients. You may be entitled to damages and compensation for any profit they made when using your materials. Don't assume there is nothing you can do when you see your trademark or your information being used by someone else, but contact an attorney to protect the rights of your business.