You visit your doctor every year or two for a checkup, even if you are not sick. You bring your car to a repair shop for a tune-up or oil change, even if it is performing fine.
Preventive law means being proactive and contacting your attorney on a routine basis, every year or two, rather than waiting until something unexpected happens.
Prevention costs less than repair. Discovering a disease at an early stage is vital to increasing the likelihood of long-term health. So, too, paying your attorney for advice beforehand minimizes the risk of a much more costly problem later.
Larger companies have a full-time legal staff to examine its operations and develop a strategic plan to reduce risks. Smaller businesses use outside attorneys. It is important to have a reliable lawyer who knows your industry and specific business, its current status and long-term goals, and can anticipate legal problems before they occur.
Don’t wait until you have a problem to contact your attorney. Instead, it makes sense to conduct a legal audit to reveal issues and identify legal pitfalls. Then, in the future, your attorney can do periodic legal reviews to update and fine-tune the results.
In the beginning, we discuss with you and create a list of items to review. This helps you develop a set of standards and practices to use, based on your specific company.
While every business has different procedures, based on our experience as a Seattle business lawyer, we examine the following documents when applicable:
- Business formation, such as incorporation articles, bylaws, and minutes, and partnership agreements;
- Standard and customized business forms used on a routine basis;
- Leases and rental agreements, both for real estate and business equipment;
- Invoices, purchase orders and waiver of liability;
- Supplier and customer agreements, collection letters;
- Insurance policies;
- Employment and independent contractor agreements, employee benefit handbooks, brochures, policies and regulations;
- Licenses and permits required to do business and provide services;
- Title to business assets and loan documents;
- Patents, trademark, copyright registrations, confidentiality agreements, and non-compete covenants;
- Communications to outside parties such as newsletters, seminar materials, business correspondence, signage, etc. which should conform with the business plan; and
- Document retention policies in the event of any future needs.
Our goal is to assist our clients to build a strong foundation and avoid as many future problems as possible. It is important to remember that a business is run by people who live in the real world. Just as a visit to a doctor or car mechanic cannot guarantee that you or your car will never get sick, a legal audit cannot anticipate or solve every problem. Still, a preventive legal checkup and periodic maintenance can help reduce risk and establish a stable future for your business.