What should a company look for in a lawyer?
You want someone who understands small and mid-market businesses and you want someone who can sit down with you in a non-judgmental way and take inventory of the entire situation — from an ownership standpoint, from an IP standpoint and from a customer and employee standpoint. Bottom line, you need a lawyer who can efficiently and effectively evaluate exactly what needs to happen to properly protect the rights of the company, its owners and all parties involved.
What are the smartest ‘recoveries’ that businesses can make?
If a business is operating right now and hasn’t properly documented everything, it’s never too late to go back and do that. In fact, it’s better to do that now and have those discussions before there’s a disaster. Get everyone together and document what the rights are for each and every party involved. Once a dispute happens, it’s almost impossible to do that. If you try to go and fix one of these issues after the fact, you’re going to spend a lot of time and money. And, in many cases, you won’t even be able to recover.
Again, the key is, if you have any doubts in your mind, sit down with a lawyer early in the process. Many lawyers will do an initial consultation for free, and the right lawyer can make a proper evaluation of your rights and save you a lot of trouble on the back end.
Are there any warning signs or things in particular companies should watch out for?
Never do business with partners or employees on a handshake. Things may seem great and they may indeed be fine for a certain period of time, but it is a recipe for disaster just to do business with shareholders, partners or employees on a handshake. If you are currently in a situation such as that, you need to evaluate and document everything.
Brian Colao is a member of Dykema Gossett PLLC. Reach him at (214) 462-6409 or [email protected]