by Tom Makeig, a lawyer who serves entrepreneurs

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Thomas H. Makeig, with offices in Fairfield, Iowa, is a 1981 alumnus of New York University School of Law and is admitted to the practice of law in Iowa and New York. This blog does not offer legal advice, which requires confidential personal communication with a lawyer. NOTICE TO THE PUBLIC: The determination of the need for legal services and the choice of a lawyer are extremely important decisions and should not be based solely upon advertisements or self-proclaimed expertise. This disclosure is required by rule of the Supreme Court of Iowa.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Appoint a general counsel

Even the smallest business is well advised to appoint a general counsel. Don't employ him or her in-house: overkill! Just form a relationship with a business lawyer, whom you keep informed about the plans and developments in your business. If a specialist is needed - e.g., tax, patents, government contracting - get your lawyer's input about whom to use or inform your lawyer whom you have appointed to give you that advice. This way, your business lawyer can coordinate their efforts to maximize effectiveness and minimize expense.

A good business lawyer knows how to (1) spot an issue important to your business that requires specialist advice, (2) frame the right input to and questions for the specialist using effective lawyer shorthand and (3) interpret the specialist's advice in the context of a thorough knowledge of your business and objectives. In this way the business lawyer, functioning as your general counsel, can achieve best results and maximum protection for you at minimum expense. By all means participate in conversations and be copied on correspondence between your business lawyer and the specialist: it's educational for you and it can save you money, because in the end, no one knows your business better than you.

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