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Fairfield County business law attorney employee handbook

If you are a small business owner, you probably have a close relationship with your employees. You may believe that your employees know what is required of them and will continue to meet your expectations – even if those expectations have only been implied. Unfortunately, this type of thinking has gotten some business owners into hot water. Although you are likely overwhelmed with concerns that appear to be more immediate, the importance of creating a comprehensive employee handbook cannot be overstated. By putting your expectations, procedures, and policies in writing, you reduce your vulnerability to legal actions and increase your team’s productivity.

Protecting Your Business Against Lawsuits

As your business grows, you will likely hire more and more employees. It is certainly possible that some of these employees will not end up being a good fit for your business. This is one important reason why you need clear policies regarding employee expectations, disciplinary actions, and termination. If you do not have a consistent method for evaluating employees and recording any problems, you could be accused of discrimination in a wrongful termination lawsuit. Furthermore, creating these policies helps employees understand exactly what is expected of them. The key is to make sure you create policies that are realistic and achievable. Consistently abide by the policies you have put in place and do not forget to record any disciplinary actions you are taking.

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Fairfield County business law attorney breach of contract

Business contracts are an integral part of a successful entrepreneurial career. Whether it is a purchase order, bill of sale, employment contract, lease agreement, or another type of contract, knowing how and when to use contracts is a vital skill. When a party subject to a contract violates any of the contract’s terms and conditions, the violating party may face a breach of contract claim. The party wronged by the violation may be entitled to damages. As a small business owner, writing clear and effective contracts with help from an experienced business lawyer is one of the best ways to avoid facing liability for breach of contract.  

Failure to Fulfill the Requirements of a Contract

There are several different types of contract breaches. A minor breach of contract is one that involves non-fulfillment of a minor detail in the contract. These breaches do not impact the overall purpose of the contract and are typically able to be resolved outside of court. An anticipatory breach or anticipatory repudiation occurs when the breaching party notifies the non-breaching party that it will not be satisfying the terms of the contract. A material breach of contract is one that is so significant that it prevents the parties from being able to execute the responsibilities contained in the contract. Anticipatory breaches and material breaches often lead to legal actions.

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Norwalk business law attorney succession

If you own a family business, you may not have ever given much thought to succession planning. You may intend to pass the business down to your child, grandchild, niece or nephew, or another relative, so you assumed that succession planning was not necessary. While handing down a business to a loved one may seem like a straightforward process, there are countless issues that can arise that will hinder your company’s growth and continued success. The best way to ensure that the transition goes as smoothly as possible is to create a detailed succession plan well in advance of your successor taking over.

It Is Never Too Soon to Start

You may not be planning to retire or transfer ownership of your business for several years or more. However, it is never too soon to start building your succession plan. As your business evolves and grows, your succession plan can be modified accordingly. Keeping the eventual transition in mind helps ensure that you are currently making choices that will allow the business to flourish under new owners in the future. Including your family in the business succession planning process can help ensure that everyone is on the same page and prevent disputes in the future.  

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Darien business law attorney

If you are currently a Connecticut business owner or soon will be, you probably already know that business contracts are an integral part of a successful business. Whether you are creating a partnership agreement, non-compete agreement, financing agreement, bill of sale, employment contract, or another type of business contract, you need to ensure that the contract is effective and enforceable. Seemingly minor mistakes can lead to major misunderstandings and contract disputes. This is one reason that it is always a good idea to have business contracts reviewed by a qualified business law attorney.

Assuming That a Verbal Contract Will Suffice

In an ideal world, we would not need business contracts. A person could simply be trusted to keep his or her promise. Unfortunately, this is not how the business world works. Informal agreements and casual contracts are ineffective and extremely difficult to enforce. You have probably poured a great deal of time and energy into your business. You need to know for certain that your business is protected if a partner, vendor, or contractor fails to keep their end of the bargain. Well-written, clear, enforceable contracts are the only way to protect your business in the event that a party breaches the terms of a business agreement.

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Fairfield County business law attorney commercial financing

Whether you are launching a new business or you are interested in expanding your current business, financing your business goals is probably one of your top concerns. Small business owners and entrepreneurs have several different options when it comes to securing funding for a new business venture. Some of these individuals use their own savings, borrow from their home’s equity, withdraw retirement funds, or even use a credit card to finance the business. However, many people find these options to be too risky and instead choose to take out a loan. Conventional bank loans and Small Business Administration (SBA) loans are two popular options to consider when financing your small business.

Conventional Bank Loans

Conventional loans are the most popular type of lending for small businesses. When a borrower obtains a conventional loan, the bank lends him or her a set amount of money at a fixed or floating interest rate. Payment schedules are negotiable and may involve monthly payments, quarterly payments, or annual payments. The parameters of the loan are based on the bank’s particular policies and the business’s overall credit risk. Typically, the higher a business’s perceived risk, the higher the interest rate. Conventional loans are highly dependent on personal and business credit scores. Young business owners with less credit history may not qualify for a traditional loan.

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Norwalk commercial and business law attorney

Did you know that the average U.S. small business owner is 60 years old? If you are like many business owners, you are nearing retirement age and starting to think about your future. You may be thinking about selling your business sooner rather than later because you have concerns about the effects of COVID-19 or because you simply do not want to continue investing so much time and energy into the business. Whatever your reason, choosing to sell your business and retire is a major decision. It is important to define clear objectives, properly prepare for the sale, and take steps to avoid mistakes that could delay your retirement.   

Preparing Your Business for Sale

As the old saying goes, failing to prepare is preparing to fail. Although you may be eager to sell your business so that you can pursue your retirement dreams, it is important not to rush this important transition. One of the most essential steps you will need to take is to secure an accurate business valuation. Properly valuing your business may be complicated – especially if the business’s revenue is down because of COVID lockdowns. A qualified business valuation professional will help you determine how to put an appropriate price on the business. You have probably poured a tremendous amount of your time and energy into growing your business. You deserve to get the best price possible.

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Greenwich commercial and business law attorney

One of the most important decisions you will ever make as a new business owner is choosing a business entity or business structure. Although making this decision may not be as enjoyable as choosing a business name or making decisions about products and services, it is an absolutely crucial aspect of starting a new business. Many new business owners find themselves in deep legal and financial trouble after choosing a business structure that does not fit their ambitions and needs. This is why it is essential to make an educated decision when choosing how to structure your business.  

Types of Business Structures

The type of business structure you choose will have a major impact on how the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) taxes your business revenue. Your business structure will also determine your level of personal liability for business losses. The most common types of business structures include:

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Greenwich commercial and business law attorney

Effectively using business contracts is an essential part of growing a successful small business. A non-disclosure agreement (NDA), also called a confidential disclosure agreement or confidentiality agreement is a contract that prohibits the participating parties from sharing sensitive information. Business owners may use NDAs when disclosing confidential information to employees and consultants, during business sales or purchases, and when meeting with potential investors. However, a non-disclosure agreement is only beneficial when it is executed accurately and does not contain major mistakes. This is why it is best to work with an experienced business lawyer when drafting non-disclosure agreements and other types of business contracts.  

The Basics of Non-Disclosure Agreements

In an ideal world, a business owner would be able to simply ask an individual not to share the sensitive business information to which he or she is privy. Unfortunately, this is not how business dealings work in the real world. The best way to prevent confidential information from being used against a business is to have the party receiving the information to sign a legally binding confidentiality agreement. A business owner may use an NDA to protect:

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Stamford business law attorney intellectual property

If you are a Connecticut business owner or soon will be, you may have countless tasks and obligations on your mind. You may be developing a business plan, working on marketing strategies, researching your competition, meeting with investors, drafting contracts, and more. However, one issue you may not have yet considered is how you will protect your intellectual property. You have probably spent a great deal of time and energy developing your business ideas, marketing slogans, website design, logos, and other business material. Protecting these types of intellectual property is a crucial step in forming a successful business.

Understanding Trademarks

The three main legal tools for legally protecting intellectual property are trademarks, patents, and copyrights. A trademark provides protection against other parties’ use of certain symbols, words, phrases, or designs that identify your products or services. You may want to trademark your company’s name, the brand names of products and services, the business’s logo, marketing slogans, and other brand-specific intellectual property. Because you will likely need to register each of your trademarks separately, securing trademark protection can sometimes be a challenging task. An experienced business attorney can help you understand what types of material you should trademark and how to accomplish this important legal process.

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Greenwich commercial and business law attorney

If you are considering forming a startup business, you may be eager to make your dreams a reality and excited about what the future holds. Understandably, you may also be a little overwhelmed by the sheer number of issues you must address. Starting a business is likely to be one of the most challenging professional and personal endeavors you will embark on. However, it also has the potential to be one of the most rewarding experiences you ever undertake. One important consideration when starting a business is where your startup will be located. There are several important factors you should be aware of when selecting a location for your business.

Choosing the Best Location for Your Business

The location you choose for your business has the potential to make a major impact on the success of your company. Whether you are interested in an office, warehouse, retail space, or another location type, there are several factors you should consider:

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Darien commercial and business law attorney

Business ownership comes with many privileges. As a business owner, you become your “own boss” and get to decide how your business is run. Deciding to buy a business, however, is not a decision to take lightly. New business owners who are unprepared or who do not have dependable legal guidance can fall into major financial and legal pitfalls. If you are considering purchasing a company, you may be wondering whether you should buy a franchise location of an existing business or a standalone business. The answer to this complicated question will depend upon several factors. That is why it is crucial to hire a knowledgeable business attorney to guide you through this important endeavor.

Consider the Differences Between Standalone Businesses and Franchises

The biggest difference between a franchise and independent business is the amount of control and authority the owner has over his or her business. If you buy a franchise, you will likely have a great deal of control over day-to-day aspects of your business, but you may have little input on “big picture” concerns. The franchisor will likely decide the types of products and services the business offers, the business hours of operation, pricing, marketing strategies, and more.

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Greenwich commercial and business law attorney

If you are in the process of becoming a business owner, you may have an overwhelming number of tasks ahead of you. You will need to decide on a business structure, choose whether or not to share ownership with business partners, develop a business plan, and much more. One matter that you may also be considering is whether or not to hire a business lawyer. If you are like most entrepreneurs, you are probably looking to reduce costs wherever possible. You may assume that a business lawyer is only necessary if you are being sued or have other urgent legal matters. However, retaining an experienced legal representative from the very beginning of your journey into business ownership may help you save a significant amount of time, money, and frustration.

A Poorly Written Contract Can Be Disastrous for Your Company

An entrepreneur’s skill set and that of an attorney are often vastly different. Entrepreneurs and business owners are often creative, abstract thinkers who look at the “big picture” instead of focusing on small details. Lawyers, on the other hand, are trained to scour business contracts and other important documents for even the tiniest mistakes that could cause problems for their clients. Having a lawyer assist you in drafting or reviewing contracts such as purchase agreements, nondisclosure agreements, employment contracts, non-compete agreements, and commercial property leases can ensure that you uncover and address any issues that could present problems for your business in the future. Your attorney will ensure that these contracts are accurate, free of ambiguity or errors, and accomplish the task intended. A poorly written business contract can result in breach of contract claims, employment disputes, and a host of other legal issues.

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Stamford, CT commercial and business law attorney

Deciding to sell your business is not an easy decision to make, since it has likely been integral to your livelihood. You have probably put a tremendous amount of your own money, time, and energy into growing your business, and parting with it may be challenging. When selling a business, whether big or small, it is essential that you avoid mistakes that can reduce the profit you obtain from the sale and cause major financial and legal headaches. Rushing a sale or selling without fully investigating your options may cause you to miss out on better opportunities. However, waiting too long to sell can also spell disaster. Whatever your reasons for selling, it is important to discuss your plans with an experienced business law attorney so that you can receive accurate legal guidance personalized to your unique needs.

Start Preparing Sooner Rather Than Later

Experts suggest that business owners should start preparing for a business sale at least several years before planning to close the deal. This gives you time to ensure that selling is truly what you want and avoid the dreaded feeling of “seller’s remorse.” Preparing well in advance also allows you to gather the financial data a conscientious buyer will want to evaluate. Typically, buyers want to look at up to five years’ worth of tax returns, profit and loss statements, bank statements, supplier and vendor contracts, and other relevant documentation.

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Darien business succession attorney

Business succession planning is a crucial step for any business owner. You have probably put an enormous amount of time and effort into your company, and you want the business to continue to succeed after your retirement or death. A carefully designed succession plan gives you the best chances possible of avoiding problems during an ownership transfer. One of the most important considerations when building a comprehensive business succession plan is who you should choose as the new owner.

Selling Your Business to a Co-Owner or Employee

If you share your business with one or more partners, a natural successor may be one of your co-owners. Some partnerships choose to draft an agreement that permits the remaining owner to purchase a disabled or deceased owner’s business interests from his or her next of kin. This option can be especially advantageous if an owner unexpected passes away or becomes incapacitated through a major accident or illness. However, this option also requires co-owners to be prepared to buy out a partner's shares at a moment’s notice.

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Fairfield County breach of contract attorney

Well-written business contracts are essential to a company’s success. Although business transactions would likely be much simpler if parties could simply be trusted to keep their word, this is unfortunately not how the business world actually works. Entering into major business agreements without a legally binding contract can be disastrous. Business contracts are used to formalize employer-employee relationships, purchase agreements, loans, and for a wide range of other purposes. When a party violates the terms of a valid business contract, the injured party may file a breach of contract claim. There are several remedies to a breach of contract claim that the injured party may be entitled to, depending on the circumstances.

Collecting Damages or Restitution Through a Breach of Contract Claim

The main remedies for breach of contract include monetary damages, restitution, specific performance, rescission, and reformation. Damages refer to the compensation that an injured party may recover through a breach of contract claim. When a contract is completely breached, the injured party, or plaintiff, may receive damages equal to the value he or she would have received if the defendant had honored the contract. If the contract was partially breached, the injured party may be awarded partial damages. Restitution is another remedy that intends to restore the injured party to the condition he or she was in before the contract was signed. Instead of being compensated for lost earnings, the goal of restitution is for money or property that was given to the defendant to be returned to the plaintiff.

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Long Island Sound commercial and business law attorney

If you are considering purchasing a small business, you may understandably be experiencing a mix of excitement and apprehension. Being a small business owner can have tremendous personal and financial rewards, but the decision to purchase a business is not one to take lightly. It is very important to take your time and not rush this major endeavor. Thoroughly research your options and speak with a qualified business law attorney to ensure that your purchase goes as smoothly as possible. As you start the business purchase process, make sure to avoid the following common mistakes.

Not Asking Why the Business Is for Sale

The prospect of being a business owner, especially a first-time business owner, is an exhilarating idea for most entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, this enthusiasm can sometimes cause potential business owners to make hasty mistakes. One of the most common errors people make with regard to business purchases is not understanding why the business is for sale in the first place. Make sure you have a detailed conversation with the business owner about his or her incentives for selling the business. Business owners may not always be 100 percent honest about their reasons for putting the business up for sale, so you may also need to look for subtle clues that reveal the real motivation for the sale.  

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Darien business acquisition attorney

Similar to any purchase in life, the acquisition of a commercial business is a major process that requires every detail to be examined. Due to the nature of a commercial business purchase, both the buyer and seller should seek legal representation to ensure that their rights and interests are protected. In some cases, an ill-advised contract may place one party in a compromised position. Throughout the purchasing process, the individual who is looking to obtain a business should carefully review every aspect of the contract. The acquisition of a commercial enterprise can be a relatively simple process if the arrangement is fair and by the books. 

Financial Risks

To ensure that your financial interests are protected throughout the purchase of a commercial business, it is critical that every detail be considered and reviewed. For example, understanding the positives and negatives linked to the business is a good indicator of where the price should be set. Factors such as location, gross profits, operational concerns, the possibility of growth, liability issues, economic downturns, and leasing agreements need to be considered. In addition, the amount of time and effort that will need to be allocated toward the business should also be included in the evaluation process. A business that is struggling to make a profit should be appraised differently from a company that has a positive cash flow.    

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Long Island Sound commercial financing attorney

In order for any business to be successful, it must be able to grow and develop. While there are many ways to foster the expansion of a business, these techniques may require significant financial resources. Whether your company needs an increase in capital to hire additional staff members or to lease or purchase new machinery, a commercial loan could be the answer. As one of the most common approaches to funding a new business endeavor, a commercial loan can provide several advantages to a growing company. A knowledgeable business law attorney can help you secure the finances that are needed to grow and expand your operations.   

What Is a Commercial Loan?

Simply put, a commercial loan is a long-term, capital-heavy loan that typically has low interest rates and somewhat flexible payment options. In most cases, the approval process for this type of loan can be burdensome, which is why it is recommended to have a financing attorney help structure and apply for the loan. For business owners who are looking to foster the growth and development of their company, it is important to be aware of the benefits of obtaining a commercial loan. 

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Stamford, CT business attorney noncompete agreement

A noncompete agreement is a type of contract that prohibits an employee from entering into competition against his or her employer. Workers often have access to sensitive information about clients, customers, business operations, practices, strategies, and marketing plans, all of which can be used against an employer. If you are a business owner, you may wish to use a noncompete agreement, also called a noncompete covenant or covenant not to compete, to prevent your employees from using skills and information gained during employment to compete with you in any way. It is important for business owners to obtain legal counsel regarding noncompete agreements, as these documents must meet certain criteria in order for them to be enforceable.

Noncompete Agreements in Connecticut

A Connecticut noncompete agreement is a legal contract that prevents an employee from entering into direct competition with an employer during his or her employment or after his or her employment ends. A noncompete agreement can also prohibit an employee from disclosing business secrets and proprietary information to other parties during and after his or her employment. Noncompete agreements must be limited in their scope and duration in order to be enforceable by the court. Many noncompete agreements include a one- or two-year restriction period, but the amount of time the employee is prohibited from entering into competition can vary based on a range of factors. To be legally binding, a noncompete agreement can only prevent an employee from working in certain geographic areas. Blanket noncompete agreements that do not specify a reasonable time period and location stipulations will typically not be upheld by the court.

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Greenwich commercial and business law attorney

If you are a business owner, you know the vital importance of setting clear expectations for your employees. When a business is in its infancy and only has a small number of employees, you may be able to get away with verbally expressing rules and expectations to your workers. If you are heavily involved in the day-to-day operations of your business, it is easy to keep a watchful eye on employees to ensure that they are not exposing you to any liabilities. However, as your business grows and develops, the need for a written set of guidelines and expectations becomes critical. Creating an employee handbook that states employment policies, company rules, and how workers are expected to behave at work will help prevent employee-related disputes in the future.

Why You Need An Employee Manual or Handbook

An employee handbook contains a company’s practices, policies, and the legal rights and obligations of employees and their employer. Not only can this type of handbook protect you as a business owner legally, but it can also significantly improve the work environment. Many of us have had jobs where we were unsure of our role in the company or what was expected of us. It can be confusing and disheartening to be an employee and not feel like part of the team if other employees are not on the same page as you. An employee handbook can go a long way in establishing a culture of teamwork and professionalism at your company.

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