What is a Small Business Lawyer?

N. Madison
N. Madison

A small business lawyer is an attorney who works on behalf of small business owners. A person with this title may handle a range of legal matters for a business owner. For example, he may provide advice concerning such things as zoning and trademarking as well as licensing laws and requirements. A person in this field may help business owners negotiate contracts and file the necessary paperwork for starting, expanding, or even closing businesses. A small business lawyer may also represent a business owner in a lawsuit and even provide legal advice regarding tax matters.

A small business lawyer handles the legal needs of a business that has minimal operations.
A small business lawyer handles the legal needs of a business that has minimal operations.

One of the jobs a small business lawyer may perform is helping an aspiring business owner decide how to set up his business. For example, a lawyer in this field may help a person decide whether he should organize his new business as a sole proprietorship, form a corporation, or even agree to a partnership. This type of lawyer may not only provide advice on choosing a type of business organization, but also prepare and file paperwork required for starting a business.

A good deal of a small business lawyer’s job may involve negotiating contracts. A lawyer in this field may help a business owner negotiate contracts for equipment, products he will sell, and even services the business needs. A lawyer may also help to negotiate the lease or even the purchase of commercial space. Besides negotiations, a small business lawyer will usually carefully review contracts before his client signs them in an effort to ensure they are fair and adhere to the laws of the particular jurisdiction.

A small business lawyer may also help a business owner deal with lawsuits. He may represent a client in court, attempt to negotiate a settlement, and even file any paperwork required as part of the lawsuit. This type of lawyer may file a lawsuit on behalf of his client as well. In many cases, a small business lawyer will also help a businessperson avoid lawsuits by negotiating issues that arise before they escalate into a lawsuit.

Often, a small business lawyer also advises his clients on the laws of the jurisdiction and how they apply in particular business situations. For example, he may explain zoning laws and help the client decide how to proceed with obtaining zoning approval. He may also advise clients on trademarking issues. Likewise, he may advise his clients on business licensing requirements and tax laws.

N. Madison
N. Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a wiseGEEK writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

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A small business lawyer helped keep me from getting ripped off by several vendors. They knew I was new on the scene, and they wanted to take advantage of my ignorance of standard practices.

I had my lawyer look at every contract before I signed it. On several occasions, he said that a vendor was asking for a much higher percentage than the norm.

I refused to do business with these vendors, even though they offered to come down in price once I declined. I didn’t want to work with anyone I didn’t trust.

Over the years, I have stuck with the vendors who have proven to be honest with me. I trust them, my lawyer, and no one else in the business.


My uncle owns a grocery store. He had help from a small business lawyer when someone slipped in his store and tried to sue him.

It wasn’t my uncle’s fault that a customer had spilled canola oil on the floor without telling anyone, so it wasn’t his fault that someone else fell because of it. However, because the system leans in favor of lawsuit-happy people more often than not, his lawyer told him it would be in his best interest to settle out of court.

He agreed to pay a certain amount to keep the matter from going to trial, and his lawyer served as a go-between. The person decided to settle, because this money was guaranteed, unlike the amount he thought about requesting in a lawsuit.


@Perdido - Small business lawyers certainly can save you a lot of headache and future financial woes. When my sister and her husband opened up a restaurant, they thought they could handle everything themselves. They wound up in debt to the IRS.

I don’t know where they got this percentage, but they decided that 10% would be enough of their income to set aside for taxes. They figured wrong. They had a lot of business, and they ended up owing more like 25%, which they didn’t have in an account.

After this happened, they did hire a small business lawyer. He told him several things they should be doing differently, and he helped them streamline their business methods. They only wish they had hired him years ago.


When my good friend decided to open a party supply store in the city, she hired a small business lawyer to help her with all the legal aspects of opening a business. She talked to him before she even bought the space for her store.

He kept her from getting into a few sketchy leases. Once she came across a good deal, he informed her to go ahead with it.

She had no idea how much to set aside for taxes, and he even helped her with that. He gave her a rough percentage to go by, and she now has peace of mind about the arrival of tax time.

If I were going to start a business, I would do exactly what she did. I wouldn’t make a move without consulting a lawyer first.

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