WNJ practice group aims to help new businesses achieve success

by Christine L. Mobley

Legal News

Aiming to help new businesses in Michigan take off down the road to success, Warner Norcross & Judd LLP developed a new practice group focused on developing and financing early-stage companies.

The Business Start Ups and Early Round Financing practice group began this fall aiming to strengthen fledgling businesses.

"This is an area that we, like most general service firms, had a practice in," Loren Andrulis, group chair, stated. "It's not always referred to this way, but as we looked at it we saw an increased activity - not only with start ups, but with non-traditional financing - and we thought it was appropriate to bring together folks and focus on that area in a more specific way than we had in the past.

"We've certainly helped people with start-ups and had helped people with financing before but it wasn't in such a focused manner," Andrulis said.

Andrulis, with WNJ's Grand Rapids office, is a member of the firm's management committee and a partner who concentrates his practice on a wide range of business and corporate legal services.

"One of the things that start-up business is always looking at is the need for capital," Linda Paullin-Hebden, partner and member of the group of of the firm's Southfield office, pointed out. "Many times start-up businesses have no choice but to raise that capital through what we call 'family and friends.'

"One of the things that we can help companies with is how to structure raising capital through 'family and friends;' how to navigate the securities laws."

The group does delve deeper than mere financing of new endeavors.

"The other things that start-ups often times are looking at is they have technology - how do they protect that technology?" Paullin-Hebden asked. "We bring together our Intellectual Property attorneys who can help new business owners protect that."

Realizing the myriad needs that are prevalent when starting a new business, the group has enlisted attorneys who are experienced in several different aspects of the law, including:

* Corporate and general business law.

* Securities and capital raising.

* Human resources.

* Employee benefits.

* Tax.

* Intellectual Property.

* Family business and succession planning.

* Estate planning.

* E-Commerce.

"This is really a time of opportunity for entrepreneurs in Michigan, and it's an ideal time to start a new business," Andrulis stated. "But there are a number of considerations to evaluate to ensure that you start on the right foot. Our attorneys have assisted thousands of small and start-up companies establish themselves, find appropriate financing and position themselves for growth.

"This new practice group assembles the skill sets needed to help launch any new business successfully."

"I think this is a great time to start a new business," Paullin-Hebden said of the timing. "There are many really successful businesses that are started in down economies.

"One of the other benefits of this group," she continued, "is to really get the word out to new businesses owners to what kind of legal services they should be thinking about because too often a business owner will get started and think they can't afford legal services and then we get them later on down the road. It's much more difficult to remedy mistakes that are made in the beginning than just to start off on the right foot.

"We're hoping that this is also an opportunity to educate the new business owner, to provide them with high quality legal services at a cost that they can afford," continued Paullin-Hebden.

Published: Wed, Jan 6, 2010