Why your startup/company needs a lawyer

BY STANLEY ALIEKE

When running a business or investing in a startup in a place like Nigeria where the legal and political system is complex and full of many bureaucratic policies, you have to be very careful and make sure you do everything by the pound in other to don’t run into problems that will put an end to your start-up or fledgling business.

As a foreign investor funding a startup in Nigeria, you definitely need a corporate lawyer who will hand-pick and guide you and the new business through the maze of legal policies, statutes and Nigeria’s endless laws governing business and corporations. world, including local government regulations in the area where your startup is located, as well as state and federal laws governing the industry you are in.

Even as an indigenous investor or startup owner in Nigeria, you surely need a lawyer, especially if the startup is in disruptive fintech business sectors and models heavily regulated by regulatory authorities.

From idea conception to start-up to pre-contract and pre-incorporation to negotiation to incorporation and post-incorporation to contract stage to financing, you need a lawyer to check and double-check all of this to make sure you’re not doing it. get burned immediately or later in the future.

Some takeaways on how a lawyer can help your startup and budding business, hence why your startup needs one.

Right from the conception of the idea of ​​the business in which you invest, finance or start, you need a lawyer to obtain the necessary registrations, certificates and licenses that protect these ideas. Ideas are very valuable things in the business world and they are classified as intellectual property, which is why they are jealously protected and guarded. The lawyer would obtain the necessary certificates that protect your company’s technical know-how and ideas through trademarks, patent registrations and copyright registrations. Protection of intellectual property is essential from the outset. Registration of trademarks, copyrights and patents should be done at the beginning of any business, especially if the startup is in the creative industry or in the industry where ideas are exchanged.

Therefore, if business ideas, trade secrets, and other intellectual property are core to the business or startup, you need a lawyer who will obtain the proper registration that protects those intellectual properties. . The lawyer will also help you protect the startup’s trade secrets by preparing appropriate confidentiality agreements and nondisclosure clauses between you, the founder, and the company’s staff or employees.

Some owners of e-commerce stores and fintech startups who launch their businesses through websites don’t even know that they can register their domain names as startup IP and they also don’t know that websites may be registered as copyright and all graphics, images, letter, color and every component of this copyrighted site as intellectual property belonging to the company in order to protect it legally against copiers and intellectual property theft.

A start-up lawyer can also help you incorporate and register the business/company. According to Nigerian laws, a company or startup that has not been duly incorporated with the Corporate Affairs Commission will not yet be recognized as a statutory body or body corporate or be given the status of a body corporate. As a founder, you will need a lawyer to help you incorporate the business and register it with the Corporate Affairs Commission to make it a completely different legal entity from its owners.

The lawyer will know how to incorporate your startup. He can advise you, depending on the nature or structure of your startup, on how the business will be properly incorporated as a sole proprietorship, partnership (trade name) or limited liability company (LLC/ LTD).

I constantly come across business owners who, by the nature and structure of their businesses, should be incorporated, but have instead been incorporated as trade names and end up spending extra money and wasting time changing the company’s status with the company. business committee.

A knowledgeable startup attorney can also help register the startup in foreign countries if the business expands to other jurisdictions and territories for operations.

Additionally, the startup attorney will ensure that your business operations and activities comply with laws, statutes, policies and procedures and government regulations. There are huge statutes and policies governing business in Nigeria and ignorance of all this will not excuse you as a startup founder or business owner if you break any of these laws and that is why you need a lawyer. A startup lawyer will help you identify regulations specific to your business and advise you on compliance.

Some business owners operating in Nigeria do not know that they need to get a certificate called Special Control Unit Against Money Laundering (SCUML). This is one of the strict requirements that financial institutions and EFCC impose on business owners and in some cases your bank account will be frozen if you have not obtained the certificate. That’s why you need a lawyer to advise you on how to comply with these requirements so that you don’t find yourself in the hot seat.

You also need an attorney to check all official correspondence and documents going in and out of company assignments. The lawyer must examine the proposed business plans and contractual offers, as well as the clauses and terms of the contract to ensure that the interest of the company is duly protected.

Additionally, your lawyer will be able to draft the essential documents required to support your business’s digital presence or online marketing strategies if your business operates primarily in the digital world. For example, you need a lawyer to draft the terms and conditions of the website, the collection and use of personal data, etc.

In addition, as a founder, you need a lawyer to draft and specify the shareholding of the founder(s) and draft the partners’ partnership agreement if the startup is a partnership.

Startup lawyers propose the shareholder structure of the founders and specify the qualification conditions. It is a well-known secret that founders/investors have different agendas and interests when funding or investing in a startup and each founder/investor wants their individual interest to be fully protected. The startup lawyer as a master in the craft can propose agreements that will capture and protect the interests and feelings of each investor and founder to avoid confrontations that would justify the withdrawal of investors who could constitute the business park .

Also, when several people create a company or create a business, it is preferable to understand and clearly specify the expectations of the founders and the mission of each partner to avoid disagreements in the future. Thus, a lawyer will draft the pact of the founders and shareholders, will specify the responsibilities of the partners, the mode of partnership, the types of partnership, what is expected of each partner, the formula and the agreement for sharing the dividends, the percentage interest of each founder or partner, etc.

Most importantly, a startup/incorporated business is considered by law to be a separate legal entity, therefore, the startup must be protected from investors and even the founder(s).

Additionally, as the founder of a startup, an attorney will help protect your personal assets from corporate liabilities. The lawyer will advise you on the best way to protect your personal assets and on the legal consequences of certain contracts. You will want your business to be structured appropriately to protect your own personal non-business assets.

A lawyer will also advise you on acceptable advertisements and commercial formats so that you do not get into trouble with the advertising regulatory authorities. Some advertisements are labeled offensive and prohibited from showing to the public and any company that shows such advertisements is always sanctioned and punished by the authorities and it doesn’t matter if you don’t know that these advertisements are prohibited. This is why you need a lawyer to guide you so that you do not incur penalties and punishments.

The solicitor will also advise the company on the appropriate hiring and firing policy which will be in accordance with the Labor Law/Laws and Employment Laws of Nigeria, Draft Company Policies, draft rules and regulations and manual for company staff and workers.

If you haven’t yet hired or consulted a lawyer for your start-up or start-up business, you should do so now to save your business from the legal issues that will arise. To top it off, startup lawyers bring not only their legal expertise, but also their business experience, having gained enough experience working with other startups.

Your startup, budding business, and business need legal support and assistance to grow and grow.

Alieke is an Abuja-based lawyer. He can be reached via [email protected]

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