Business owners often avoid calling on legal counsel until after a problem has outgrown their control. Cost concerns, or a focus on just “getting it done”, can cause this reluctance to pick up the phone. Some business owners may have had some experiences that make them wish they could have a lawyer on the payroll, but just can’t fit it in the budget. A General Counsel may be the answer. An effective business lawyer can quickly and efficiently respond to the range of issues that confront businesses in day-to-day operations, helping you to achieve your objectives without undue cost or delay.
Let BOYNECLARKE LLP be your General Counsel
Has your business grown to the point where you have a need for regular legal work, but you cannot justify the expense of a full-time, so-called “in-house” lawyer? Or maybe you have an in-house lawyer, but work has grown to the point where that lawyer is relying on a lot of external help. Have you experienced impersonal service and the high billable rates of law firms? There is an alternative. We can provide cost-effective and business-smart options to retain a lawyer who can personally guide you through your business dealings on a basis that will allow you to manage business risks and costs.
Claire E. Milton, Q.C. is an experienced lawyer and former general counsel to a well-known Canadian public company. She has advised business owners and managers through a great variety of transactions, both special and routine, and she is used to working in a fast-paced and practical environment where decisions have to be made quickly.
How can she help you?
It does not matter if you are just starting your business or in the thick of it trying to be more successful, Claire can help you to:
- Select a business form that is the best for your business
- Keep your business compliant with applicable legal requirements
- Develop and maintain better business relationships with customers and suppliers
- Protect your business name and intellectual property assets
- Hire and fire your employees, and develop good employment policies and practices
- Negotiate contracts
- Access solid but not bank-breaking legal advice on a responsive basis
There has been a lot of talk about good governance in recent years, due to high-profile corporate disasters that have filled newspapers and brought the word “corporate” a bad name. However, not much attention has been paid to this subject by small business. Corporate governance is nothing more (or less) than good systems and procedures to ensure effective and ethical business decisions can happen. Claire has experience both in the board room and as an advisor to boards in both the profit and not-for-profit sectors. Her guidance in governance matters is aimed at one goal: making businesses more effective.
Many problems that can cost you a lot of time, money and aggravation in business can be avoided. A simple risk identification exercise can help you to fill gaps in your strategy; gaps that could implode your business if they are not mitigated. If you are being sued, it’s too late. We may be able to help you successfully defend the suit, but not before you have had many sleepless nights and written many unexpected cheques.
The time to develop a relationship with a good business lawyer is before you are sued. While you would likely prefer never to need to hire counsel, the cost of keeping you out of trouble is only a small fraction of the fee a lawyer will have to charge to get you out of trouble once it has happened.
Claire can review your operations and strategy to identify those areas of possible risk that should be addressed; areas that may have been overlooked while your business has grown.
There is, of course, no guarantee that every business will avoid conflict, whether with a business partner, a supplier, an employee, or the government. Claire is not a litigator and does not handle litigation, once it is commenced. However, she has many years of experience in managing litigation, and if you are sued, or need to sue, once she knows your business she can help you rein in legal strategies and spending. Claire practices law at BOYNECLARKE LLP with many of Nova Scotia’s best litigation lawyers, so if you do run into trouble, she can ensure you are well served.
Employment and Human Resources
Whether you have a few or a few hundred employees, you are subject to a multitude of laws, and employment law is a high risk area for unsuspecting businesses. You may need contracts for key employees, confidentiality or non-competition agreements, or just general advice about policies and management rights.
Claire can help in these areas, and she can also help you develop good performance management and incentive policies to help you build a strong team, and therefore a competitive advantage.
Everyone would like to operate on the strength of a handshake, but this is not realistic in today’s business environment. Good contract management can make you more effective and profitable. It can also expedite dispute resolution. Claire can help with any contract, whether with vendors, customers, service providers, or other third parties. If you want to be sure, get it in writing … good, clear and effective writing. Whatever your contractual needs, whether it’s drafting for a special project or creating standard forms, talk to Claire about options tailored for your industry and business requirements.
Work Over Flow
If you are an in-house counsel, you may find you periodically need someone to help fill in a gap on a part-time, short-term or contractual basis. You may not have highly specialized work, but you may have just too much of what you are perfectly qualified to do, without a business case for adding personnel. Claire can help. As a former general counsel, she has the skill and experience to quickly understand and fulfill your requirements, whether short or long term.
The most oft-cited disincentive to calling a lawyer is the fear of unanticipated cost. We can structure fee alternatives, whether as retainers or flat fees, so that there are no hidden costs or hourly fees that seem to add up while you sleep. We can tailor individual arrangements that work for you and our firm. Claire understands budgets and knows how businesses measure performance. She will work with you to ensure you have the benefit of general counsel, without losing sight of your budget and business requirements. If you opt for predictable fees and service agreements, you have the guarantee of Claire’s time and attention when you need it.
This information has been provided for general reference only. For advice on an actual matter, you should consult a lawyer. To contact a member of our team call us at 902-469-9500 or 1-866-339-3400 or contact us online to make an appointment.