With Legal Services, Better to Lead than React

April 13, 2018 | Staying on top of trends: Iowa leaders read, listen to sharpen skills Drew Larson, Attorney, BrownWinick Law Firm, larson@brownwinick.com

Nearly every leadership resource that a business leader might read will be clear about one thing: The best leadership is proactive, not reactive. Despite this clear truth, one area where many people are reactive is in the use of legal services. There are many obvious reasons for this, including cost concerns and a lack of knowledge about what value an attorney could add early in the process.

The following are the primary areas where I frequently see my clients wait too long to write the email or make the phone call, which usually means additional costs and problems later in the process:

  • Letters of Intent: I often have clients who want to negotiate the letters of intent for acquisitions or investments without legal involvement. While sometimes this works out, often I find that my clients have either agreed to terms that they really don’t want or understand, or they don’t address key deal-breaker issues upfront that sink the deal after significant avoidable cost and headache on the back end.

  • License Agreements: Intellectual property ownership and licensing is becoming more important for businesses in all industries. While many clients think that they’re done once they have a royalty rate, there are many complexities that must be addressed to minimize dangers to all parties. This includes dealing with issues like ownership of derivative works, termination provisions, sublicensing and related royalty structures, and minimum licensing fees.

  • Organizational Documents: The process for actually setting up an entity in Iowa and most other states is pretty simple. However, the governance issues are much more complex and are a common source of avoidable conflict. Getting advice and having a discussion about these issues early can prevent many costly shareholder disputes down the road.

These are just some of the areas that often benefit from proactive behavior — seeking expert advice upfront — and are at least worth a phone call or email. You’ll almost always end up ahead.