Do I really need a lawyer?

Michael CarabashMy final blog in anticipation of being on Goldhawk Live tomorrow at 7:00 p.m. deals with the question: do I really need a lawyer? The answer, in my humble opinion, is not so straightforward. In some cases, a lawyer would be highly recommended (e.g. you get charged for a serious crime or sued for lots of money or child custody is at stake) whereas in other situations, the tools may be readily available to do without their services. Let’s look at one example of incorporating which I will use to drive home the “it depends” message.

There are enough service providers and information out there to help you incorporate a business yourself without a lawyer. Just do some research on articles of incorporation, by-laws, annual returns, shareholders/directors/officers, meeting minutes, corporate taxes, etc. and you too will know how to incorporate and maintain a business. In fact, just check out this blog and you’ll find a lot of what you need to know about each of these topics. Here is a great government website from Corporations Canada that has 60 pages worth of valuable information on how to incorporate a business federally.

But what if you need specific by-laws concerning director liability and insurance (which you can’t find in some boilerplate precedent)? What if you need a special class of shares for a certain group of shareholders with specific rights attached? What if you need a shareholders’ agreement with share transfer restrictions built in place? What if you need help getting the money out of your corporation while paying the least amount of taxes? What if you want to expand your business and are wondering which legal vehicle (e.g. division, subsidiary, franchise, etc.) is ideal? … You see where I’m getting at? You will undoubtedly have questions about your corporation and where it is heading and a lawyer MAY BE NEEDED to get answers to your particular situation. In fact, if you went ahead and incorporated without consulting with a lawyer, but then need to amend your articles of incorporation after consulting with a lawyer, you will need to pay a few hundred dollars more in government fees to do so! So you could have saved time and money by consulting with a lawyer first.

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