Corporate Law 101

Focusing on business management from trademarks to contracts.
From trademarks to contracts and beyond, business or corporate law covers commercial relationships. It's primarily focused on business management, the enforcement of rights, and the framework within which law-abiding businesses are required to operate.

Legal needs for beginning businesses

If you're just starting out in business, you can take care of some small tasks yourself, including:

  • Reserving a trade name

  • Leasing commercial space

  • Creating a partnership agreement

  • Interviewing and hiring employees

  • Completing critical IRS paperwork

Although some additional resources may meet your needs, you may prefer to create your own business contracts and then ask your lawyer to review them or answer specific questions, making it a more affordable proposition than having an attorney do it all.

When you need a lawyer

Business challenges better left to the experts include:

  • A harassment lawsuit

  • Changing how you allocate profits

  • Hiring high-level employees

  • Being sued for discrimination

  • Facing a securities fraud investigation

What's special about corporations?

A corporation is one of the ways a business may be structured (some of the others are sole proprietorship, partnership, and limited liability company, or LLC.) When you create a corporation, you create an entity separate from yourself that can sue or be sued, sign contracts, and perform other business functions. Its major advantage is the way your corporation shields you and your shareholders from personal liabilities and debts, with limited exceptions.

Attorneys trained in corporate law can help you set up a corporation (forms and information are also available through your Secretary of State's office). See these profiles of corporate attorneys on

Corporate lawyers can structure stock and bond offerings as well as the bank and insurance loans that provide capital for your business. They help with licensing arrangements, joint ventures, mergers, acquisitions, securities law and business tax issues.

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