Our economy in Northwest Arkansas is booming! The local unemployment rate is unbelievably low. We're importing people into Northwest Arkansas to work. Small businesses are hiring like crazy to keep up. But with increased laborers comes increased risk of liability and compliance problems. Employment is one of the most heavily regulated aspects of doing business in America, and you need an attorney ready to help you hire, manage, and in some cases fire the right way.
1. Job classification isn't as simple as you may think. Do you have independent contractors working for you? Are you sure they qualify as contractors? Do you pay by the hour? Are you sure the job doesn't qualify for a salary as an exempt employee? These are not the easiest decisions in the world to make. There are a lot of complicated factors to think through. When you retain Josh Bryant as your company's general counsel, he'll help you navigate this complicated area of law.
2. Employer liability can kill a business. Right now it's the #MeToo movement. Here in Northwest Arkansas we've seen prominent people have serious employment problems because of a claim of sexual harassment. You need a lawyer to help you take, investigate, and handle a claim of work-place sexual harassment appropriately. However, all kinds of discrimination in the workplace can lead you to shut your doors. Race, ethnicity, religion, gender, disability, and other forms of discrimination will only grow as Northwest Arkansas continues to become a more diverse place to live and work. You need policies and procedures in place to help you navigate these difficult aspects of employing people. When you retain Josh Bryant as your general counsel, he'll help you draft those policies and procedures and walk through any problems that come up.
3. Employee benefits can be equally complicated. It has been reported that millennial employees are less interested in big pay checks as they are in generous fringe benefits like paid time off, retirement, health insurance, and so forth. The problem is that each of these areas are heavily regulated too. The Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. "Obamacare") regulates your business regarding health insurance. The Family Medical Leave Act and other laws regulate some aspects of paid time off. ERISA is a law that regulates retirement account issues. The list goes on and on. On top of that, the way in which many of these issues are handled could be perceived as discriminatory and open you up to more employer liability. Josh Bryant will help set you up for success.
4. Employees can get you in trouble with others too. Here's a big legal word for you: respondeat superior. In general, this is a legal doctrine that makes you responsible for the damage caused by your employees acting within the scope of their employment. You need policies and procedures in place to help you minimize these risks too. Josh Bryant can help.
5. The cost is worth the benefit. Josh Bryant operates on a cash flow model that allows him to focus on the client relationship rather than billing. He comes to you in Northwest Arkansas rather than maintaining an office and high overhead such that your costs go up. Many attorneys who work with businesses will charge $250 per hour! Josh Bryant's rates start at $250 per month, depending on the size of your company.
But because he takes this approach, Josh Bryant must limit the number of small businesses he represents to twenty. Don't wait until your competitors protect themselves with his services. Call Josh Bryant now at (866)597-5621.
If you are a business in Arkansas, Josh Bryant is licensed in your state. If you are a business in Texas or Oklahoma, he's developed a network of attorneys to help if we need. Otherwise, you're right. we're not licensed in your state. The good news is, we don't have to be in order to be your "in-house counsel." What? How's that?
- An attorney does not have to be licensed in your state to be your In-House General Counsel.
Rule 5.5 of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct governs what is known as the "Multi-jurisdictional Practice of Law." Organizations and businesses bring in attorneys all the time to work full time for them as "General Counsel." Many Fortune 500 companies have hundreds of lawyers working for them out of their corporate headquarters that aren't licensed in the state of the business because Rule 5.5 allows it.
The thing is, most small businesses can't afford their own in-house General Counsel at $150,000 per year. But most small businesses can afford a part-time General Counsel, especially at under $150 per month as opposed to the $150 or $200 per hour most attorneys would charge as outside counsel.
There are still limitations. Josh Bryant can't go to court in your state. He can't give opinion on matters that are purely a state law issue. That's ok though. Many of the legal risks small businesses face are under federal law, like employment issues, taxation, and so forth. Additionally, many of the things he'll advise you on are not inherently matters of legal opinion (although they are formed by legal education and experience). For example, best practices in posting jobs, drafting job descriptions, interviewing, hiring, reviewing, and firing people is primarily human resources advice, but advice with legal ramifications nonetheless. It is important that you have a legal shield helping you make these important decisions.
If something came up where you needed a local attorney, your General Counsel would manage that relationship for you. It always helps for organizations like yours to have an attorney managing attorneys. Josh Bryant's job would be to lay out expectations to local counsel, provide instructions and get feedback using the legalese we're all trained in, and then communicate that back to you as the decision maker in your business.
This may be a bit confusing, so there will be subsequent podcasts, blogs, and blogs on the subject. Do us a favor - leave any questions you have in the comments below. We'll answer them directly and may also answer them as we produce more content in the future.
It's hard to describe exactly how we got here. The whole idea started a few years ago as I was researching the idea of Business as Mission - how businesses can use their influence and impact on their community to advance the Kingdom of God throughout the world. In essence, how can businesses be Great Commission Companies? From that, the idea blossomed into what you see here - a subscription service for small businesses to access a General Counsel Attorney.
Of course, we aren't limited to just Business as Mission. We're working toward sustaining your business and helping you increase (or at least protect) revenue. Any business that gets sued or shut down for lack of legal compliance isn't good for the Kingdom. So whatever your question is, whatever policies you need for your employees, we're here to help with that too.
Here's the long and short of it - over the last several years, the US Supreme Court has made it easier for Christian business owners to do business in a manner that reflects their values. However, it must be done right. You can't expect to easily claim a religious exemption to a law you disagree with if you've never established your business on religious grounds. We'll walk through that together. Let's get your business set up right. Let's establish it on the foundations of God's Word first. Let's protect it from those who would take it from you by setting up sound, legally compliant policies. And let's work together to finish the task we've been given by God - to make disciples of all the nations.
For His Fame,
Josh Bryant, Attorney at Law
Managing Attorney, General Counsel Attorney
Josh Bryant, J.D., M.Div., authors most of the posts in this section. From time to time, he will post articles from others in the field of business as mission, best practices in legal compliance, and revenue growth.