By Cora Whitney
As a doctor, providing the best care to your patients is your number one priority. However, that can often be hindered by legal issues that arise from owning a practice. Learning how to navigate the legal side of your practice is likely not something you learned in medical school, nevertheless, it’s an essential part of your day-to-day work and needed to protect your practice.
When it comes to helping prepare for the unexpected and resolving business disputes before they happen, a business attorney can be a doctor’s greatest asset.
Why does a doctor need a business attorney?
An attorney can help significantly decrease the liability exposures doctors may face by owning a medical practice. Helping educate doctors on the ins and outs of all types of contracts, attorneys provide the legal know-how needed to help structure a business in a way that protects its assets. Without a business attorney, doctors and their teams expose themselves to unnecessary liabilities and the headaches that come with dealing with those situations.
When should I start looking for a business attorney?
When it comes to owning a practice, doctors should consult with a business attorney from the beginning of their practice to the end of its journey. When forming a practice, a business attorney will help set up the professional entity to best limit its liabilities. During the middle stage of owning a practice, contracts and leases will often come up for consideration. Having a lawyer draft these decreases potential disputes in the future.
And when the day comes when you decide to sell your practice, whether that means retiring or transitioning out of the practice, having the right structure and team in place is key to an easy transition. An attorney can help decide on the two different options available to you when selling your practice. With different benefits and consequences, having an attorney offer advice and solutions clears up a lot of the unknown and eases the process of transitioning out of your current practice.
And finally, what should doctors look for when searching for a business attorney?
Owning a business is a tough gig, but you don’t have to go at it alone. When searching for a business attorney, look for someone trustworthy and quite frankly, someone you enjoy talking to. Talking to your attorney shouldn’t be a chore. Meeting with a business attorney on a proactive, problem-solving basis is something you should both look forward to.
A business attorney should join important meetings and provide helpful information, advice, or suggestions, working towards solving problems that arise and mitigating the likelihood of future problems. In addition to standard qualifications, look for someone responsible, responsive, and who can offer a timely turnaround to meet the demands of your business.
Actively working with a business attorney to protect their practice frees up a good deal of time so doctors can focus on what matters most: caring for their patients. Learn more about investing in a business attorney for every step of your medical practice in our recently published article (page 32) in the Medical Professionals Treasure Valley magazine.
Cora Whitney is a Business and Real Estate attorney with Smith + Malek, PLLC practicing in Idaho and Washington. If you have questions about these areas of law, contact Cora at 208-215-2411, firstname.lastname@example.org.