Each year, businesses examine or analyze revenues, create budgets, and define their goals for the upcoming year. But often they lack a legal strategy covering contracts, employee handbooks, leases, brand protection, and cybersecurity.
The start of the year is a great time to map out what the business needs to be in good legal shape, and have a lawyer reevaluate the company’s important documents and policies.
- Contract Templates. They are a vital aspect of every business, and equally important regardless of the industry, size or geographic region. Contract templates often get overlooked or even neglected for years. Updating contract templates on a yearly basis, or after any major change in the business, gives an opportunity to make sure the business has the necessary documents that are up to date to help mitigate future legal risk.
- Employee Handbook. Employees are pivotal to business, and for many small businesses, they are like family. The business wants to make sure its employees are valued and treated fairly. It is also important the business has mitigated legal risk arising from employment-related disputes and allegations. Balancing the two is where the Employee Handbook can be helpful. It is a great way to set forth and clarify policies, procedures, and expectations the business has for its employees, and should be updated yearly to remain current.
- Commercial Real Estate Lease. If the business leases commercial property, and it is up for renewal, this is a great opportunity to review the terms and see if they still meet the needs of the business. In some instances, businesses may be able to renegotiate certain terms of the lease to meet those needs important to the business. Renewals also provide an opportunity to reevaluate property and liability insurance, and make sure the business has the coverage it needs to help mitigate legal risk.
- Brand Protection & Intellectual Property. Many businesses may be surprised to know that their company has valuable intellectual property that they can, and should, protect. Besides a company’s brand, it may also offer unique products and services that represent its company and help attract customers. It is also important to evaluate whether the company’s current marketing or business practices could put it at risk of infringing upon another’s intellectual property.
- Cybersecurity. According to the FCC, theft of digital information is now the most commonly reported fraud, and has even surpassed physical theft. To help mitigate the legal risk cybersecurity breaches present, a business should have in place technology and data management policies and processes. It is also important to make sure it has up to date security software, proper password protection, limits access to certain company information and data, and regularly backs up records. These too, should be reviewed yearly to ensure that the company’s information is safe and secure.
Disclaimer: This article is for general informational purposes, and is not intended to be given or taken as legal advice. If you have specific legal questions or concerns about your business, you should seek legal advice from an attorney. Choate Law welcomes you to contact us for a complementary consultation to discuss your individual business needs