Nancy Hersman and DeAnn Chase, partners in South Bay Business Lawyers of Manhattan Beach, work with business people from startup through expansion.
“We help them with the contracts they will need to get up and running, whether it’s an LLC or corporation. We love working with entrepreneurs who are excited about their business ventures. We just caution them to take time to put the proper legal structures in place,” Chase said.
“We also help them look five, 10 years down the road to protect themselves from potential liability,” Hersman added.
Recently, a client asked Chase Hersman to give his startup a legal checkup. It turned out that he did not have an intake sheet for customers to sign with the appropriate waivers and releases.
The client’s new intake procedure, which is required of many businesses, will allow him to better organize his business, as well protect him from liability.
Another important consideration, often overlooked by startups, is the possibility of an their business closing.
“People often go into a business like they go into a marriage – they don’t think they might get divorced. They’re excited about the new business and its challenges and they don’t want to think about what might go wrong,” Hersman said.
Business partners might not get along, or one might put less time and effort into the business than the other. Business partners might disagree on profit distributions. Chase and Hersman urge partners to work out exit strategies well in advance of such a possibility – and get it in writing.
“If something does go wrong, as sometimes it does, they’ll be glad they had the foresight to have those documents in place,” Chase said.
Chase Hersman’s client Eddie Avakoff, owner of Metroflex Gym, said he used the firm to help him get up and running by registering his LLC, creating a partnership agreement.
“With their attention to detail and expertise, I felt protected and extremely secure in my new business,” he said. “I owe a lot of the success of my business to them.”
Of course, startups are only part of the firm’s business.
“A lot of our clients are already in place and beginning to grow, and need assistance with their growth. They might not have set up their entity correctly, or they’re entering into new contracts, and they need help to move forward,” Hersman said.
“We represent a lot of professionals – psychiatrists, contractors, accountants, healthcare providers. It makes it interesting. We help them meet the requirements of their governing boards,” Chase said. The firm also counts software and entertainment companies among its clients.
Hersman also works to secure and protect trademarks, including the pier-at-sunset logo of the Manhattan Beach Centennial Committee.
Trademark infringements can get thorny. Businesses and nonprofit entities can trademark their logos’ concept, color, sound and even scent.
Hersman urges businesspeople to consider protecting their business name and logo by doing a trademark search before they start marketing their business.
“We had a very small client get a cease-and-desist letter from a really big company. While we didn’t think her trademark was confusingly similar, she was not about to go up against them,” Hersman said.
The client decided to abandon use of the disputed words. But since she was at the beginning of her marketing, she was able to change the name at little cost.
Hersman serves as a Manhattan Beach Parks and Recreation commissioner, chairs two committees on the Manhattan Beach Education Foundation, is Program Director for the Mayor’s Youth Council, and sits on the board of the Manhattan Beach Coordinating Council. She was formerly a member of the Manhattan Beach Unified School District Board of Trustees.
Chase, who founded South Bay Business Lawyers, is equally active in the community. She chair of the Manhattan Beach Chamber of Commerce board, is past president of the Manhattan Beach Kiwanis Club – the first woman to hold the post – and received the 2010 “Woman of Entrepreneurship” award from Comerica Bank and the Los Angeles Lakers.
Carol Ann Glover has joined on to bring her real estate expertise to the firm. The lifelong Manhattanite served on the inaugural Mayor’s Youth Council and served as business liaison to the City of Manhattan Beach Senior Advisory Committee. She has served on the Leadership Manhattan Beach board of directors and the city’s Strategic Facilities Committee and is a past chair of the Manhattan Beach Chamber of Commerce. She is also a past recipient of the Soroptomist Women Advancing the Status of Women award and the Manhattan Chamber’s Woman of the Year award.
South Bay Business Lawyers, 1334 Parkview Avenue, Suite #230, Manhattan Beach. (310) 545.7700. SBBLMB.com