Corporate Lawyers: Safeguarding Business Interests through Legal Expertise

Corporate lawyers play a vital role in facilitating growth. They help leaders plan out governance issues, help seize business opportunities, advise on taxation, and encourage sustainable business growth. In this guide, we will explore the role of corporate lawyers in relation to business and delve deeper into how they can help your business maximize its potential.

What is a Corporate Lawyer?

Broadly, corporate lawyers are those who specialize in handling the legal aspects of running a business. A corporate lawyer near you will focus on the legalities applicable, from shareholder rights to daily operations. They ensure the decisions that business leaders make align with the prevailing laws and regulations, as well as comply with the business’s contractual obligations.

In addition to providing legal counsel, corporate lawyers provide strategic leadership support. For instance, they will consult on employment-related matters or potential mergers and acquisitions. As the business grows or declines, experienced corporate lawyers will help anticipate and mitigate any risks.

Distinguishing Between Corporate and Commercial Lawyers

A common confusion is between corporate and commercial lawyers. However, corporate lawyers focus on the internal aspects of a business, such as governance, operations, and compliance, whereas commercial lawyers deal with external matters, such as contracts with other businesses, commercial disputes, and sale and purchase agreements.

Understanding the difference is vital for business leaders, as both provide vital but distinct advice.

Services Provided by Corporate Lawyers Near You

Corporate lawyers offer a wide range of services for businesses. Here are some aspects they assist with:

Establishing a Formal Business Structure

Lawyers assist business owners and leaders in identifying and implementing the most efficient business structure. That can mean operating either as a sole proprietorship, a firm, or an incorporated company. For example, a tech start-up in Toronto, for instance, may seek to attract new investments while minimizing the personal liability of the founders. Alternatively, a mature partnership may look to incorporate to boost its financial options. Lawyers can provide advice on many aspects, such as personal liability, legal disclosures, tax liabilities, and the structure’s impact on operations.

Assisting with Regulatory Compliance

Depending on the industry, businesses may have to comply with a range of legal, financial, and regulatory requirements. Lawyers can guide business owners through complex requirements and put efficient frameworks in place to ensure ongoing compliance.

Some common examples of compliance requirements are Canada’s labeling and marketing requirements. For businesses in sensitive industries, such as life sciences, lawyers may advise on matters relating to medical devices, medical trials, and health data.

Licensing and Commercialising Intellectual Property

Intellectual property (IP) can be some of the most important assets a business has access to. The trademarks, proprietary technology, and know-how of a business can constitute significant value and give the business a competitive edge.

Lawyers can advise on the most effective and cost-efficient means of protecting the IP that a business owns. They can also assist with licensing IP, which can potentially unlock additional revenue streams and new product opportunities.

Advising on Employment Matters

How should you structure your business? How should leadership make decisions? What kind of contracts should you have for employees? These are some of the employment-related questions corporate lawyers will help answer.

Lawyers can assist with understanding your obligations under the Ontario Employment Standards Act. They can also prepare standardized employment contracts, which will minimize risk exposure for the business while letting it operate the way it wants to.

Corporate Litigation Lawyers Resolve Disputes

If disputes arise, corporate litigation lawyers advise and represent the business. This can mean negotiating on behalf of the business, settling claims, or protecting the business’s interests.

Litigation lawyers may also be responsible for defending leadership against claims arising from business decisions. An example of corporate litigation is the personal liability of directors and officers of the business; another is any disputes that are related to shareholders’ rights.

Proactive Risk Management

Anticipating and mitigating risks is a vital responsibility of corporate lawyers. This can manifest itself in a variety of ways, such as conducting regular audits to ensure compliance with PIPEDA. At other times, corporate lawyers near you may be called upon to assess compliance with Ontario’s environmental laws if a business is looking to develop a new site.

Lawyers can facilitate employee training too. From reinforcing workplace safety policies to running regular sessions on work-appropriate behaviour to advising employees on information-handling practices, training a business’s employees helps to prevent additional risks in the future.

“My Business is too Small to Need a Corporate Lawyer”

Many business owners will say, “My business is too small, “everything is working fine,” and “what is a corporate lawyer going to offer my business?” to justify not working with corporate lawyers. On the contrary, businesses of all sizes can benefit from the expertise lawyers have to offer.

An experienced legal team can provide market intelligence and insight into the business that may not have been considered. What’s more, corporate lawyers will provide leadership support and align the business for growth. An example, as mentioned above, is structuring the business in a way that appeals to potential investors. Lawyers can also help the business obtain and maintain certifications, allowing it to bid for contracts it wasn’t eligible for previously.

One of the biggest advantages of working with an experienced corporate law firm is that you can use their services on an as-needed basis. Choose to retain lawyers for specific or short-term projects instead of adding someone to your payroll full-time. This offers access to the vast resources of a corporate legal team while paying for only the services you require.

Finding the Right Corporate Lawyers for Your Business

The nature of your business, your industry, and your unique requirements will determine what type of legal team is right for you. Broadly, here are a few things to consider when you are searching for lawyers for your business:

  • Seek out corporate lawyers with experience in your industry.
  • Ensure the law firm has the right resources to service your needs.
  • Speak to peers and read reviews to learn more about a legal firm.

At Lancaster Chown & Welch LLP, we bring over a century of experience representing businesses large and small in St. Catharines and the Niagara region. Schedule a complimentary consultation today to discuss your needs and find out why we are the right legal partners for your business.