Anyone who spends any amount of time online knows that there’s an unfortunate amount of misinformation floating around about everything from vaccines and autism to essential oils. So why is it, then, that business owners often take to Google or, worse, Facebook or Quora, when they need information best provided by a business lawyer? Brentwood-based attorney Brian T. Boyd says this is a huge mistake and one that could cost a business owner his reputation and livelihood.
Boyd recently sat down with us to help clear the air and below offers no-nonsense answers to questions all business owners should ask their attorney instead of their online acquaintances. Consulting with your lawyer can help you avoid business litigation which, in Brentwood, can be expensive, time-consuming, and reputation-ruining.
Q: Is it really necessary to have all of my contracts in writing?
Brian T. Boyd: If you want to avoid legal action and business litigation, yes. Brentwood business owners can protect themselves by ensuring that agreements between their company and clients are detailed in writing and signed by both parties. However, it is important to understand that oral contracts are often enforceable as are terms discussed via email or text messaging. To avoid any misunderstandings, your legal agreements should include wording stating that acceptance of the contract supersedes any previous communication.
Q: Contracts are really only necessary between me and my clients, right?
Brian T. Boyd: That’s a dangerous thought and one that could easily result in a dissolved partnership. When you are starting a business with friends or family, it’s easy to believe that your word is all that’s necessary. While this might be true when discussing what to bring for Thanksgiving dinner, you should always have a contract in place between yourself and any partners. Remember, money has a way of turning relationships from great to gone quickly, and, without legal protection, you could find yourself in the midst of business litigation, and a Brentwood judge will typically rule in favor of common practices instead of disputed verbal agreements.
Q: Can I use pictures or images that I find online in my marketing materials?
Brian T. Boyd: Breaking copyright laws or infringing upon someone else’s trademark can fast-track you straight to court, and if the history of business litigation in Brentwood is any indication, you won’t get off without a fine. Pictures, images, and even content posted to the web are not free for the taking. Before you go copying and pasting, do yourself and your company a favor and check the website for terms and conditions. Better yet, contact the image or content author and ask for permission to use their intellectual property.
Q: Will a nondisclosure agreement help keep my business information safe?
Brian T. Boyd: Unfortunately, this is not always the case. I have been a business lawyer in Brentwood for many years and have seen NDAs broken on numerous occasions. However, when you partner with the right people and have these agreements in place, it does significantly reduce the likelihood that the tricks of your trade will make their way to your competitors.
Q: I don’t really need a legal business structure, but I want to protect my assets. Should I set my business up as an LLC anyway?
Brian T. Boyd: There are pros and cons to creating a formal legal entity for your business. Forming an LLC or corporation does offer you some security against monetary losses if your company is not successful. However, if you don’t upkeep the requirements of maintaining the structure, such as creating clearly-defined operating procedures or making notes at shareholder meetings, then your personal assets can still be targeted. This is called piercing the corporate veil.
If you are facing business litigation in Brentwood or the surrounding areas, contact Brian T. Boyd at the Law Office of Brian T. Boyd — 615.861.1936.