Updated: Oct 15, 2019
Again, this is an optional step, but again the owners of FiveWhyz all have access to a lawyer. The main use of a lawyer is to help you work through contract documents as you engage in the consulting business.
Areas in which we typically need help with as we engage in consulting include:
Contracting: When we offer a service to an organization will will need to write a contract.
Intellectual property: Let’s face it, most of our business is in our heads. We have intellectual property. This can create problems as we work. For example, if you build a training course, while consulting for a customer, who do you think owns that presentation. Depending on the contract you are operating under, the answer might surprise you. One contract I worked with proposed that “all intellectual property developed under this contract is owned by the company” which didn’t make any sense to me, so clearly a discussion is required. But this just scratches the surface of the issues that could arise. For this reason you might want to talk about it with a lawyer so that you can understand impacts and also potentially change contracts as part of a negotiation.
Non-compete: As coaches we often work through other consulting organizations. We typically are not employees of these companies (to use the parlance, we are not “W2’s”). Instead, we invoice these consulting companies for our services (we are “1099’s”). There are a number of consulting organizations that will contract with you to provide coaching and training services. For many new coaches it is often convenient to work through one of these firms as, in return for a taking some of your consulting fees, you do not have to worry about business development, sale closure, contracts, and so on. Since these companies do the business development, they are concerned that you (and the end client) might choose to contract directly cutting them out of their margin. For this reason they will often put in place non-compete clauses in their contracts with you. While this all makes sense in a general sense, some of these non-competes can be so broadly written that you almost become an employee of the consulting company. Again, a good lawyer will help you work through this.
Unlike the Accountant, we don’t use “big boys” lawyers. Here we tend to focus on finding a local lawyer that can help us read and understand the contracts we are working.
By Way of Context ...
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And remember, I am not an accountant. I am not a lawyer. You will want to get help from these experts and should defer to their opinion in the event that what you read on this page differs from their opinion.