Key Legal Documents Every Small Business Needs: Insights From A Business Lawyer

Key Legal Documents Every Small Business Needs: Insights From A Business Lawyer

Starting and running a small business involves navigating a complex landscape of legal requirements. To ensure your business operates smoothly and avoids potential legal pitfalls, having the right legal documents in place is essential. Here are some key legal documents every small business needs, along with insights from a business lawyer on why they are important.

1. Business Formation Documents

When you establish your business, you need to choose the right legal structure, such as a sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, or limited liability company (LLC). Each structure requires specific formation documents:

  • Articles of Incorporation: Required for forming a corporation, this document outlines the company’s structure and is filed with the state.
  • Articles of Organization: Used to establish an LLC, this document is similar to the Articles of Incorporation but for LLCs.
  • Partnership Agreement: For partnerships, this agreement details the roles, responsibilities, and profit-sharing arrangements between partners.

These documents are crucial as they legally establish your business and define its structure and governance.

2. Operating Agreement Or Bylaws

An Operating Agreement (for LLCs) or Bylaws (for corporations) sets out the internal rules and procedures of your business. This document includes details about management structure, voting rights, meeting protocols, and how decisions are made. It helps prevent disputes by clearly outlining the roles and responsibilities of each member or shareholder.

3. Employment Agreements

If you have employees, it’s important to have clear Employment Agreements. These contracts outline the terms of employment, including job responsibilities, salary, benefits, and termination procedures. Employment agreements help protect both the employer and the employee by setting clear expectations and reducing the risk of misunderstandings.

4. Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs)

Non-Disclosure Agreements are essential for protecting your business’s confidential information. Whether you’re sharing proprietary information with employees, contractors, or potential business partners, an NDA ensures that sensitive information remains confidential. NDAs are vital for safeguarding trade secrets and maintaining a competitive edge.

5. Service Contracts

If your business provides services, having detailed Service Contracts is crucial. These contracts outline the scope of work, payment terms, deadlines, and responsibilities of both parties. Service contracts help manage client expectations and provide legal protection in case of disputes over the quality or scope of work.

6. Lease Agreements

For businesses that operate from a physical location, a Lease Agreement is a key document. This agreement with your landlord specifies the terms of your lease, including rent, duration, maintenance responsibilities, and conditions for renewal or termination. A well-drafted lease agreement protects your rights as a tenant and ensures you understand your obligations.

7. Intellectual Property Agreements

To protect your business’s intellectual property, consider Intellectual Property Agreements such as:

  • Copyright Agreements: Protect written, musical, and artistic works.
  • Trademark Agreements: Protect brand names, logos, and slogans.
  • Patent Agreements: Protect inventions and innovations.

These agreements help secure your business’s intellectual assets and prevent unauthorized use.


Having the right legal documents is essential for the smooth operation and protection of your small business. These documents not only ensure compliance with legal requirements but also provide a clear framework for managing your business and handling disputes. Working with a business lawyer from Mahdavi, Bacon, Halfhill & Young, PLLC to draft and review these documents can save you time, reduce risks, and provide peace of mind. By investing in proper legal documentation, you lay a solid foundation for your business’s success and growth.