Dental attorneys play a very important role. They are there to make sure that practices stay out of legal trouble, are compliant, and avoid lawsuits. Getting into legal trouble could mean the end for a clinic, and it’s even worse if it’s a new one. This is why you should consider working with a legal professional from the very beginning. If you aren’t working with one already, here are a few reasons why you should consider doing so immediately.
They Will Help You Avoid Employment Issues
One of the legal blind spots many practices have is when it comes to hiring employees. There are very specific regulations regarding how you hire and dispose of employees. Employment law is one of the most important parts of running a dental practice and is still one of the least known by professionals.
You could end up in trouble in all sorts of ways, not only in relation to hiring or firing decisions. For instance, you might have to deal with a harassment case. Some employees may be accusing another employee of harassment and misconduct, and they might be right. You may find yourself legally responsible if you didn’t address the situation correctly, and an attorney will be able to show you what should be done in this kind of situation.
We would suggest that you go for an attorney who is close to you and understands your jurisdiction. Laws can vary greatly depending on where you live, so if you’re located in Texas, work with a Texas dental attorney who knows the local laws inside and out.
Another reason why you should work with a dental attorney is to protect your brand. In the example we mentioned earlier, mishandling harassment could lead to a scandal, and you might have a huge PR problem if you don’t act correctly. Working with a lawyer before you start will allow you to reduce the chances of these cases happening, and if they do, you’ll be able to show that you acted in good faith.
Another thing you want to protect is your intellectual property. You’d be surprised at how much competitors can exploit your brand image if you don’t protect it properly. Some may use your colors, or a logo that is similar to yours to advertise their services. They could hijack your brand to attract leads, then negatively affect your brand if they don’t offer good service.
The issue is that many practices don’t know how to protect their intellectual property and don’t know how to go after people who infringe upon it. This is where an attorney will be essential. They will be able to tell you if you have a case and what can be done in case your IP rights are violated.
They Have a Better Understanding of Business Law
You’ll also get the benefit of working with someone who knows business law and the dental business very well. They could help you with things like franchising, for instance. They could help you choose the right structure for your practice based on your current and future plans. They might also help you if you want to bring a partner in.
A lawyer will be able to help you draft contracts with partners and suppliers. They will also be able to look over the terms of a lease, which is something a lot of owners overlook and don’t understand, but could severely affect their business. For instance, a practice may only find out after the fact that they’ll be severely limited as far as signage goes, or they may not be able to make modifications to the premises. These are all things that could end up biting you at the end and even make your practice unprofitable.
One thing to note is that most dental lawyers are actually business lawyers by trade. This means that they have to know about things such as tax laws and partnership agreements. This is like having a consultant in your corner whom you can call up any time you want to make a decision. They might be able to tell you if expanding would be a good decision, for instance, and advise you on all the additional costs and responsibilities that come with it. They may also help you reorganize your structure and ensure compliance.
These are only some of the reasons why working with a dental attorney is so important for dental practices. If you aren’t working with one, we suggest you change that immediately and contact one close to you.