One of the first steps to take after registering your business is putting a lawyer on retainer. You might enter into agreements and contracts throughout the course of your business that include unexpected obligations. Contract breaches, either on your part or on the other person's part, can cause serious problems or even bankruptcy. The following situations describe when to hire a lawyer.

When You Absolutely Must Hire a Lawyer

You don’t always have to hire a business contract lawyer. However, before signing a business contract, always have a lawyer look it over and confirm that you’re getting what you expected. This doesn’t mean that the lawyer has to be there when the contract is signed, but at some point before that, he or she must go over all of the clauses. Stock contracts can even create problems if you don’t get them adapted to your state and local laws. This is because boilerplate language—the basic language included in a stock contract—is quite easy to break in certain states. So you need to make sure that the agreement protects your interests specifically and not just a general consumer's.

When You Probably Should Hire a Lawyer

Whenever possible, hire a business contract lawyer to help you negotiate the key terms of the contract. Lawyers often make excellent negotiators, and a good one can help you get a better deal. She or he can also help you consider alternatives. A finalized contract is less likely to allow additional creative solutions or proposals; most of the time, the lawyer will just go over the terms and clauses that are already present. However, if he or she actively participates in drafting and negotiating the contract, you’re more likely to get one that meets your needs and advances your goals.