Anyone who has ever taken the leap to start their own professional practice will tell you of the many restless nights they have had contemplating the various, potential legal disasters their future professional practices could run into.
It is actually very important to go through the checklist of "what could go wrong", in order to make sure you have it right. This is a time when your lawyer can become your best friend, and the key to having a good night's rest.
Make sure your practice is structured in a way that makes the most sense for you, both from the perspective of minimizing liability and realizing maximum profitability.
There are various ways in which your business can be structured, ranging from a sole proprietorship or partnership to a limited liability corporation. Sometimes, it can also be advantageous to consider incorporating a management company to operate certain aspects of your practice.
It is important to keep in mind that each ownership structure has its own advantages and disadvantages. Consulting with a lawyer (and an accountant) early on can ensure that your practice is legally structured in a way that actually reflects your underlying concerns and objectives.
The key to any successful professional practice is having the right people in place. It is of course a long and often trying process to put together a team of staff, associates and other practitioners or professionals who are just the right fit for your professional practice.
As you put together your dream team, and build towards your professional empire, hiring employees and sometimes, making changes, will quickly become a reality of life.
It is accordingly so important that you ensure that your practice has the right building blocks with respect to is employment documentation, including employment contracts and contracts with any independent contractors and subcontractors, as well as confidentiality, non-disclosure and non-solicitation agreements. In some circumstances, particularly where a practice is being purchased from another practitioner, clear non-competition agreements may be necessary to protect your financial and professional interests.
A lawyer can help by ensuring that you are equipped with these necessary agreements, contracts, employment agreements, handbooks and a suite of employment-related templates that will be valid and enforceable, to protect your business in the long run.
A lawyer can provide you with a regulatory map to help you navigate your professional practice.
- Are you permitted to accept or to provide referral fees in your profession?
- Can you accept family members as clients or patients?
- What confidentiality provisions, if any, are you subject to?
Troubleshooting and Dealing with Issues Proactively
- You have a continuing issue with an employee or former employee
- A workplace-related complaint has been made by one of your employees against another
- A supplier has not come through and you now have suffered losses
- A problem has emerged with one of your investments
- Your building has been damaged and your landlord won't fix it
- A legal claim or dispute arisies
- You have serious accounts receivables and certain clients or patients who promise, but never pay
- You are considering a new opportunity and want to discuss your options.
Your lawyers, among other professionals, can work with you as a partner to plan for and achieve the goals of your business, while limiting risk and ensuring you are compliant with the requirements of your regulators.
- Simran Bakshi, Associate Law, Toronto