Tag Archives: lawyer

selecting right atty pic

Selecting the “Right” Legal Counsel for Your Business

For many business owners and managers, selecting the right legal counsel can be intimidating. Many businesses, especially smaller ones, worry that the cost of working with an attorney will not be worth the benefit gained.

It is important for business owners to understand that having an experienced lawyer on your side can help ensure the success of your company. An attorney can protect your finances, intellectual property, and exposure to risks. Spending a little money now can save you thousands of dollars in the future.

When looking for the “right” lawyer for your business, consider the following tips:

Don’t believe the rumors about attorneys.

How many attorney jokes have you heard? There are a lot out there, as well as all the misperceptions regarding lawyers such as they are too expensive, self-interested and not to be trusted. However, most attorneys are dedicated to helping others and they will go out of their way to achieve your goals. When you work with the right attorney and utilize him or her correctly, it will be one of the most supportive relationships you have in your business.

Work with a lawyer who supports your vision.

There are a lot of law firms out there, so you want to pick one that believes in your business and that will proactively support your goals. It is important to pick an attorney that has significant legal experience in your industry and the areas of law that you need expertise in. You can discover a significant amount of information from reading the law firm’s website to help you understand the areas of law they practice in and whether they have the expertise you require.

Get “big firm” help at solo practitioner’s prices.

If your legal issue does not require an entire legal team, consider working with a solo practitioner with prior big firm experience. This way you can work with an attorney experienced in working with complex matters without paying the big firm prices.

Take full advantage of an initial consultation

During your initial consultation, don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions. You will also want to explain the nature of your business and your goals for it. You will learn a lot about the lawyer in this type of discussion and the advice he or she gives you. Remember, your conversation is protected by the attorney-client privilege, so you can talk openly and honestly. A good attorney will focus on listening to you and be able to answer your questions, so you have a clear understanding of your options and the choices you need to make.

Finally, follow your “gut” when it comes to choosing your business’s legal counsel. You want somebody that you trust, your comfortable working with, and that provides you the guidance you need. In no time at all, you will soon realize just how valuable the relationship with your attorney is to your business.

If you have questions regarding business law matters, contact us today to schedule an initial consultation. Leslie S. Marell has been practicing business and commercial law for over 25 years. She is established in private practice and has extensive legal experience counseling companies in the areas of business contracts and transactions, purchasing, sales, marketing, computer and technology law, employment law and day to day legal matters. Let us provide your company the advice and guidance you need.

 

How to Use Atty Effectively pic

How to Use Your Attorney More Effectively

Contrary to the reputation lawyers have, we really do want to help you in a manner that is effective and efficient. Unfortunately, many people get frustrated with the time it takes to get the answer they need. What they fail to realize is that if their attorney had been informed earlier and kept in the loop as things developed, he or she could have acted much quicker. Consider the following scenario that you may be able to relate to:

As a lawyer or purchasing person, your internal customer (pick one: calls you/   drops into your office/   sends you an email) telling you he/she needs a Purchase Order or Contract issued within the next XX minutes/ hours/ days. After questioning, you find out he/ she has been talking (hopefully, negotiating) with the supplier for months. Unfortunately, this is the first you’ve ever heard about the deal. Of course, they don’t tell you any specifics….just the basics they think you need to know to issue the PO/ Contract. They tell you not to spend a lot of time on it and just do the “standard” PO/ Contract. (IMPORTANT NOTE: All names have been deleted to protect the guilty!)

Without having the specifics of the interaction between your internal customer and the supplier, it inhibits your ability to do your job effectively. If you had been involved sooner in the process, couldn’t you have issued a more meaningful purchase order or contract? This is similar to the interaction many clients have with their attorney.

What can an internal customer do to get better advice and quicker responses from your legal department? Give us the information and the time we need early on in the process. This doesn’t mean you have to have a lengthy meeting with me, but sending a quick email or making a short telephone call to give me notice of the deal being negotiated can prove to be quite helpful.

The internal customer should stay involved in the process. If the supplier is asking for changes to a clause, it is important that you understand the issues behind the requested change before sending it to your attorney. This allows you to discuss the negotiation or the rewrite of the provision with your attorney so that the issue is addressed and it avoids the unnecessary back and forth.

Lastly, you should think about whether or not your lawyer really needs to approve certain changes. If the change is a business issue that is within your domain to decide, handle it yourself. However, if your supplier wants to change the indemnity, insurance, governing law, warranty, confidentiality, non-disclosure or the intellectual property clauses, you should confer with your attorney.

To ensure that your contract provides you with the most protection from liability available, contact Leslie S. Marell to schedule an appointment. Our office is located in Torrance, California, but we proudly serve businesses of all sizes from all over the country.

IMG_0983

How to Expedite the Legal Review

When you are negotiating a contract with another party, it can be a complex and lengthy process. Below are a few tips to help expedite the legal review process before you even involve your attorney:

  • Before you give the other side a copy of the contract, talk over the major issues. Create a checklist of issues to discuss so you can determine where the starting point is for both sides before the negotiations even begin.
  • Once you discover the issues where the parties disagree, try to negotiate and reach an agreement on as many of them as possible. The more you can work through before the attorneys get involved, the better off you are likely to be. Even a “legal” clause such as the warranty provision should be discussed. Talk through what the warranty includes, how long it will last, and the deadline for fixing the problem.
  • Wherever possible, you’ll want to start working with a standard template; However you can’t rely on a standard template and simply fill in the blanks. Remember, this is a unique transaction that should include the deal points you have agreed upon. You will have to make revisions to any template to conform to the deal.
  • If the other party is making significant changes to the contract, don’t be afraid to ask questions about why they are being made. Asking these questions will provide you with information about the other side’s concerns, which is critical in reaching an agreement.
  • Discuss the business aspects of all clauses, even the “legal” or standard clauses. For example, if the supplier insists on inserting a limitation of liability, ask what the supplier expects it should be responsible for if their product is defective and it’s in the field.
  • Get creative in finding solutions to avoid problems, or minimize their impact. For example, in the purchase of capital equipment, you might discuss some form of limitation of liability in exchange for the supplier providing no charge monthly preventative maintenance and on site spare part consignment. Talk in real world terms with real world approaches to heading off the problem of faster resolutions.

Most importantly, don’t simply “hand off” the contract to your attorney. Schedule a meeting with your lawyer to discuss what has been negotiated between the parties and the reasons for the other party’s exceptions. You should stay engaged in the process and encourage your counterpart to do the same.

If you follow the above tips, it will reduce the time involved in the legal review process and help ensure you achieve a positive result. When you are ready to involve an attorney, contact Leslie S. Marell.

financial growth2

How a Business Attorney Increases Your Bottom Line

All business owners look for ways to cut costs and save money. You may think that handling legal issues on your own will save your entity money, but working with a business lawyer to safeguard your business’s best interests will save you in the long-run. For example:

  • Legal structure. Having an attorney help you pick the most advantageous legal entity for your business is one of the most important things you can do. There are a variety of entity types available and each has its own pros and cons. Choosing the right legal structure for your business impacts your personal exposure to liability and taxes.
  • Transactions. Contracts can be complex and extremely difficult to understand. Negotiating the best deal for your entity can feel overwhelming, especially if the other party has their own attorney. Working with your own business attorney can ensure that all negotiations are handled fairly and that the contract is drafted in a way that unambiguously reflects what the agreement was. A seasoned lawyer can also anticipate certain obstacles and take action to decrease your potential liability as well as reduce the likelihood of any disputes going through costly and time-consuming litigation.
  • Employment practices. Before your entity hires its first employee, you should confer with a lawyer. It is essential that employers verify that their employment practices (such as hiring/firing employees, providing benefits, classifying employees versus independent contractors, and other similar matters) comply with federal and state laws. Failure to do so can result in your business being sued or being assessed penalties by the government.
  • Lease agreements. Leasing commercial space is often a commitment that lasts for a long period of time. Leases often cover numerous complicated matters, so it is essential that you understand what you are agreeing to before you sign the contract. Failure to confer with a lawyer regarding a commercial lease could lock your entity into an agreement with over-reaching or unfair terms that can negatively affect your business’s chance of succeeding.

The above list is not exhaustive, but it gives you an idea of how a business attorney can save you time and money. To learn more about starting a new business or how we can assist you with other business-related matters, contact Leslie S. Marell today.

Handshake 2_173px

Tips for Working with your Business Attorney

If your business is working with an attorney on an important transaction, there are a few important tips that can help ensure you obtain a successful outcome. Consider the following suggestions:

Choose the “Right” Attorney

Your business lawyer will play a very significant role in the success of your company. It is important to choose an attorney that is not only knowledgeable and experienced, but also one that you feel comfortable working with. The attorney that is the best fit for your friends, competitors or counterparts may not be the best one for you. Follow your gut instinct and retain an attorney that you trust and feel confident handling your business affairs.

Stay Involved

Don’t just hand the contract to your lawyer and consider it his or her job to negotiate and finalize it. It is an attorney’s primary goal to eliminate any risk or liability for their client. However, the nature of business involves taking risks. There is some truth to the old saying that “if there is no risk, there is no reward.” Therefore, you should inform your lawyer as to which risks your company is willing to take and which risks are deal-breakers. By understanding the risks involved, discussing them with your attorney and negotiating them accordingly, you will create a situation where the attorney is writing the language for you, NOT negotiating the deal for you.

Keep the Process Moving

Many contract negotiations get bogged down and can take days, weeks or months to finalize. Most attorneys work under different time constraints and have different goals than business people. If you give up control and let the lawyers determine the time constraints and goals, you will likely be frustrated with the result.

If you have questions regarding business law matters, contact us today to schedule an initial consultation. Leslie S. Marell has been practicing business and commercial law for over 25 years. She is established in private practice and has extensive legal experience counseling companies in the areas of business contracts and transactions, purchasing, sales, marketing, computer and technology law, employment law and day to day legal matters. Let us provide your company the advice and guidance you need.

Paperwork1

Easy Tips for Reading Contracts When You’re Not a Lawyer

Reading business contracts when you’re not a lawyer can be daunting.  It is often tempting to pass the heavy lifting off to the corporate legal department, and take what your in house counsel says at face value without actually reading the contracts.  However, anyone involved in business contracting, including salespeople, corporate purchasing agents, contract managers, or department heads, should have a basic understanding of how to read business contracts.  Here are a few tips for reading contracts when you’re not a lawyer:

  1. Just read the darn thing. Roman numerals with subsections and terms like ‘force majeure’ can be intimidating at first, but once you start reading, you might be surprised by how much a lay person can read and understand in a standard business contract.  The biggest hurdle is actually convincing yourself that you can tackle the contract.  Additionally, the more you actually read the contracts, the more familiarity you will gain, and the better your understanding will be, which is incredibly useful when negotiating future deals.  Once you become familiar with warranty language, for example, you’ll see variations on the same language from contract to contract.
  2. Ask when you don’t understand. It is perfectly acceptable to ask your attorney what terms mean, or why specific phrases are included in a given contract. Your corporate counsel should be more than happy to explain the basics, if it means that they have less contract review work in the long-run.
    • You’d be surprised. Sometimes, the other side may not even understand him/herself!
  3. Get to know your company’s boilerplate. When you are negotiating contracts, it is very helpful to know what is in your company’s standard form agreement, commonly known “boilerplate” language.  These include things like termination provisions, indemnity clauses and the like.  Again, ask your corporate counsel if you have specific questions or what to know why something is included.
  4. When you get a standard form contract from the other party, mark it up. One of the best ways to read and understand a contract is to pick it apart.  When the other party you are negotiating with drafts the agreement, print a copy out and take a red pen to it, or tab the document with comments in Microsoft Word.  Circle terms or provisions you do not understand, or things that seem more favorable to the other side (and less favorable to your company).  Ask your attorney about why things are written the way they are and how you might revise to bring parity into the contract.

If you are involved in corporate purchasing or sales, or have questions about contracts for your business, attorney Leslie S. Marell can help.  Leslie has more than 25 years of experience as in-house counsel and as a legal adviser working with businesses, business people, and business contracts, in the technology, manufacturing, software, and medical device industries.  She understands the real-world practicalities of what it takes to draft, review, and negotiate corporate contracts, and has presented her dynamic seminars to Fortune 500 companies and small to mid-sized businesses across the country.  Leslie specializes in helping contract analysts, project managers, and department leaders work better with their own internal legal departments and outside counsel.  To learn more about Leslie’s seminars, or get expert advice on contracting matters, contact Leslie at (310) 372-8663, or visit her online.