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The Boston Globe

Business

On the Job

For small businesses, lawyer is counsel for a day

Kate Willett (left), founder of ViralGains, sought legal help from Jan Glassman.

BARRY CHIN/GLOBE STAFF

Kate Willett (left), founder of ViralGains, sought legal help from Jan Glassman.

Tackling legal issues can be a minefield for many small business owners, who often don’t have the resources to employ their own in-house attorney. As a former general counsel, Jan Glassman knew that start-ups need advice on the same issues as big businesses, including contracts, labor regulations, licenses and permits, intellectual property, tax compliance.

Glassman started Daily General Counsel in Brookline two years ago to provide legal services to what she calls “the underserved small businesses on Main Street,” such as barber shops and spas, auto repair shops, and retail companies

Is it true that the average small business in America may be one lawsuit away from bankruptcy?

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I think that is a fair statement, because when someone enters into litigation, the process takes over, and it’s totally uncertain what it’s going to cost and how long it’s going to take.

What gave you the idea for starting Daily General Counsel?

I worked for 15 years as a general counsel for a management-consulting firm. I saw how difficulties could often be solved quickly when addressed pragmatically with knowledgeable legal advice. The small business owner just needs an answer so he can get back to work.

What are the common legal mistakes that small businesses make?

The most common mistakes include operating your business with bad contracts — or no contracts at all; poor management of problem employees; and not using restrictive covenants effectively, which protect client connections or confidential information.

How does Daily General Counsel work with businesses?

We charge a flat rate of $1,500 a day, so clients know upfront what fees to expect. This includes a full day working side-by-side with the business owners, on-site at their company. The day ends with a review of the topics we’ve discussed. Then I send a report, summarizing the advice provided and any remaining action that needs to be taken.

What are typical problems that crop up in family businesses?

One common problem derives when family businesses are passed onto subsequent generations. As a business grows, internal ‘political’ issues arise — you may have family members who are not performing in their positions or co-owners who don’t get along. Then you end up with situations where the business operations are hindered.

Your husband is also an attorney and your partner at Daily General Counsel. Who wins in a dispute, you or your husband?

My husband will quickly tell you that I almost always win in a negotiation. He likes to joke that he is like an unpaid intern. His usual response is, ‘Whatever you want, dear.’

Cindy Atoji Keene can be reached at cindy@cindyatoji.com.
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