Springtime evokes welcome associations of fresh air and balmy temperatures. We look forward to the bright sun shining through the windows and dream of days in the garden or on the golf course. It’s also an opportunity to tidy up and make a fresh start around the house. Have you ever considered the value of spring cleaning for your legal and work practices as well?
Every-day business involves quite a few contracts, leases or even loan documents. On top of that, federal and state laws that apply to your business and your employees are always changing. Here are a few spring cleaning thoughts for your legal life.
First, look at your major agreements. These could be leases, mortgages, sales contracts, loan documents or any number of other important contracts. There are quite a few things to examine in any agreement, no matter what it is.
- Make sure the agreement hasn’t expired. If it hasn’t, note when it will and whether you need to give notice to renew or cancel the agreement. If you use an electronic calendar, enter the important dates now, even if they are years away.
- Go through the details. Make sure the right people are listed. Has a business name changed? Has anyone moved? Is the email address for important notices still valid? If so, find out if you need to update the document.
- Make sure you’re meeting your obligations under the agreement, and the other party is as well.
- Consider whether the agreement is accomplishing your original goals. Are you happy with the agreement overall? If not, can you renegotiate or make changes?
Second, take a moment for risk management. Check your insurance coverage, paying close attention to exclusions from coverage and coverage amounts. Remember that other contracts might impose insurance requirements on you, such as mandatory minimum coverage amounts for drivers, or naming another party to a contract as an additional insured party under your policy. Perhaps check in with your agent and see if there are any new riders you could benefit from, such as for cybersecurity issues, or to adjust your coverage limits if needed.
Third, take a look at your employment practices. Employment law changes frequently, so regular checkups are necessary. If you have an employee handbook, be sure your handbook and employment practices follow current law. Make sure you’re following your own policies, as well. If you have added employees since you last reviewed your policies, check with your attorney to see if your obligations have changed. State and federal benefits and employer obligations change with the number of employees.
Fourth, consider the future of your business. Will you be making any major changes in the future, such as expanding into a new market, buying a business or considering an exit strategy? There may be steps you can take now to revise your corporate documents or otherwise prepare for your next steps.
Finally, spend a few minutes on general legal housekeeping tasks. Make sure your business is still in good standing with the Minnesota Secretary of State or the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions. Both offices require periodic filings to maintain good standing, and it is easy to forget to make the required filing. Make sure you’re keeping the required corporate records, such as minutes of official meetings and copies of your main agreements.
Many of these tasks will benefit your personal life as well. It’s always good to review your insurance policies, loan documents, wills or other estate planning documents, and important agreements. If you have any questions about any of your legal needs, please don’t hesitate to contact your attorney.
John Gasele is an attorney at Fryberger, Buchanan, Smith & Frederick, P.A., practicing in the areas of corporate, utility, Internet, trademark, and copyright law. You can reach him in the firm’s Duluth office at 218-722-0861.