• December 28, 2014

Armstrong: Attorneys a key resource for businesses

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Posted: Sunday, June 8, 2014 4:30 am

Meredith A. Armstrong, owner and attorney at M.A. Armstrong Law Firm, opened a practice that specializes in business law in January 2013 in Killeen.

The legal practice focuses on business formation, business contracts, business litigation and trademark law.

Armstrong received her doctorate from William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, Minn., and her master’s degree in business administration from Alaska Pacific University.

She is licensed to practice law in both Minnesota and Texas.

Since launching the firm, Armstrong has educated local entrepreneurs about business law through the Central Texas Business Resource Center.

This week she shared some of her knowledge with Killeen Daily Herald Business Editor Mason W. Canales.

What are some of the most common reasons businesses seek counsel from an attorney?

Business owners seek out attorney counsel to start, sell or buy a business; help with federal, state and local regulatory compliance matters; for contract drafting; protecting intellectual property such as a trademark; general legal guidance; employment matters; and help in resolving disputes with customers, other businesses or government agencies.

What services can attorneys provide for businesses that are not often thought about?

Usually, business owners think they only need an attorney when they are sued. But the truth is businesses should have an attorney through the entire life cycle of their business — from start-up through growth and maturity and if they decide to close the business.

Attorneys can be a vital resource for any business.

They provide guidance, are a resource to ask questions, can help the business minimize risk and help the business owner plan for the future.

What common mistakes do business owners make that land them in a legal dispute?

The most common mistake that I see is business owners who form their business, buy a business and draft contracts using online forms without the help of legal counsel.

Online forms should never be considered a substitute for legal counsel. They are a one-size-fits-all package for situations that are not all one size.

Most disputes arise from contracts that have been poorly drafted or do not cover the situation being disputed.

An attorney is able to draft custom contracts, taking into consideration the particular circumstances of the transaction and including terms to cover potential disputes that could arise under the contract.

Why should a business know whether it should form as a LLC, corporation and/or other business type of organization?

The type of business entity you choose for your company has the largest impact on how your business will function.

For example, the business entity you choose will impact how your business will operate, provide options for taxation, and determine your personal and business liabilities for debts and other types of lawsuits.

The best way to know which type of business entity to form is to consult with a business attorney on your particular situation.

What are some of the benefits of the different types of business organizations?

There are numerous differences in the benefits among the many types of business structures.

As an example, a sole proprietor doing business under an assumed name is the most flexible business structure in terms of business operations and taxation.

However, the sole proprietor is personally liable for the debts and other lawsuits brought against the business.

The Texas limited liability company or Texas corporation business structures provide a shield for the members, directors and/or shareholders from the liabilities of the business. An attorney should be consulted when deciding which business entity is the right one for your business.

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