40+ Legal Resources for Business Professionals
Articles, Guides, Checklists and More to Help You Manage the Legal Side of Business
In business, executives typically address a variety of issues, including legal matters. However, affording an attorney, law firm or in-house counsel is often not an option for many business professionals, small business owners or entrepreneurs. This may leave managers or owners with little recourse.
Whether it be signing contracts, resolving disputes, or contemplating mergers or acquisitions, having a thorough understanding of general business law can be of benefit to those in charge.
This list of trusted resources provides legal information helpful for business owners. Many of the resources are free to non-lawyers, while some require a purchase, subscription or membership.
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Jump ahead to any section:
- General Business Law Resources
- Business Documents, Contracts and Transactions
- Mergers and Acquisitions
- Commercial Dispute Resolution
- Business Law Training and Education
General Business Law Resources
In addition to marketing, financial, and HR skills, knowledge of legal matters can help ensure you are able to address your company’s needs. These resources include videos, articles and worksheets on topics ranging from employment law to corporate finance.
American Bar Association – On-Demand Business Law Webinars
As a law section member of the American Bar Association, you have free access to over 100 on-demand law webinars, for which you can receive continuing legal education credit. These videos are also available to regular members and non-members for a fee. The wide-ranging topics include annual developments in commercial law, drafting arbitration agreements in business contracts, how to protect workers, and managing company risk in supply chains.
American Bar Association – Business Law Resources
With years of conference, committee and meeting materials and audio files, the ABA’s Business Law Resources area offers relevant legal information for your business. Issues covered include cyberspace, individual and secondary liability and business bankruptcy, among many others. Access is subject to membership, which can vary in pricing.
Business Law Today – Videos
For an up-close and personal look at the legal field, check out Business Law Today. This American Bar Association video platform provides a library of free member and author spotlight videos focusing on internet law, finance, dispute resolution and business regulations.
Business Law Today – Articles
Stay up to date on legal issues with hundreds of articles written by experts on Business Law Today. These articles cross the legal landscape with topics ranging from trademark protection to cybersecurity. All materials are free and can be printed or shared.
Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Resources and Tools – Employment Law
Looking for information about employment law? The SHRM Employment Law page contains plenty of resources and tools for handling HR matters. Tools include how-to guides, a free employee handbook template and HR forms. Articles explore communication, preventing workplace harassment, and arbitration agreements. Some tools and resources require membership at varying prince points..
Fletcher Tilton Knowledge Library – Business and Corporate Resource Library
The Fletcher Tilton law firm covers many issues in its comprehensive library of business and corporate articles. These resources are free in printable, PDF format. Topics include LLCs vs. S corporations, the Family and Medical Leave Act and tips for setting up a business.
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UpCounsel – Legal Resources
If your business does not have in-house counsel and needs a consultation or legal work, you might want to consider UpCounsel. This company has over 5,000 experienced attorneys who can consult or complete legal work for you. You post the job you need and you will get proposals from a pool of lawyers. Rates differ according to work performed.
Federal Trade Commission – Guide to Antitrust Laws
The FTC provides an overview of the three central antitrust laws—The Sherman Act, The Federal Trade Commission Act and The Clayton Act—in addition to information on how to handle the supply chain, competitors and price discrimination. There are also fact sheets with more detail about several antitrust topics.
Small Business Forum – Legal Issues Discussion Board
Networking is one way to discover new ways to approach complex legal topics for your business. This online Small Business Forum lets you share your experiences and learn from others. Topics are wide-ranging and oriented around small businesses. Posting on any discussion requires registration, which is free.
Small Business Administration – Stay Legally Compliant
Complying with state and federal laws can help avoid legal trouble, including fines or loss of business. Content on the SBA website addresses compliance requirements based on the business structure, the state in which the company is located, and federal laws. Links offer free information abou permits, licenses, certificates and tax filing.
IRS – Tax Information for Businesses
Correctly preparing and filing taxes can protect the self-employed and business owners from government action, including fines and liens. In addition to discussing specific taxes, expenses and credits, the IRS website provides free forms, a payment portal and information on opening, running and closing a business.
Department of Justice – ADA Business Connect
When managing a business, you must comply with provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act. This government website covers topics such as facility design standards and auxiliary aids or services for those with disabilities, with publications for businesses, forms and departmental links. All information is free.
Department of Labor – Compliance Assistance Quick Start
Preventing workplace injuries and illnesses is crucial, especially for industries like logistics and construction that comply with particular Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) requirements. Compliance Assistance Quick Start offers step-by-step guides to help understand industry requirements. This free information is not comprehensive and is considered advisory only.
SCORE – Business Legal Issues Resources
The non-profit SCORE, a partner with the Small Business Administration, relies on a vast network of volunteers and expert business mentors to help small business owners at no cost. Articles, blog posts and webinars focus on the legal issues businesses face, including writing contracts and small business insurance. Confidential business mentoring is also available at no charge, in-person, or by email, phone or video.
National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) – Small Business Legal Center
Fighting for, educating and assisting small businesses is what the nonprofit NFIB is all about. The Small Business Legal Center offers relevant local and national policy updates or strategies on how to grow your business. There are free articles and videos about labor issues, wages and Supreme Court cases that may affect your business. An annual membership is available that offers discounts on business products and services.
Thomson Reuters – Corporate Legal Department Resources
The Practical Law service provided by Thomson Reuters offers members access to practice notes, articles and updates. These resources, which are edited by experts, cover legal topics including employee benefits and compensation, finance, intellectual property and real estate.
Corporate Finance Institute – Introduction to Corporate Finance
Whether you are interested in corporate finance professionally or looking to advance your current position, this free corporate finance course might help. The curriculum will take you through key concepts related to financial planning and analysis, organizational development, private equity and more. Tools include videos, interactive exercises, assessment and evaluation.
Small Business Law – Small Business Legal Checklist
Here is a free small business legal checklist. This checklist can help shed light on such legal areas as licensing, leases and partnership agreements. A free, no-obligation consultation is offered once you have completed the checklist.
Small Business Administration (SBA) – Legal Requirements Worksheet
If you are still in the planning stage of starting a small business, this legal requirements checklist provided by the SBA can help identify areas that might require more legal research. Links to government sites are provided in each section of the worksheet, with further information on that section’s topic. Additional resources, including a guidebook, are free.
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Business Documents, Contracts and Transactions
When running your business, paperwork, including contracts and transactions, should be correctly filled out and recorded. Using templates for your document needs can help protect against legal issues that arise from using incorrect forms and improper terminology.
Business Management Daily – Free Sample Handbooks
Rocket Lawyer – Essential Business Documents
Creating consistent legal documents is simple with Essential Business Documents from Rocket Lawyer. Whether you are starting a business, entering into an independent contractor agreement or wanting to protect your inventions with patents, you will find the templates you need. In addition, you can receive legal advice from experienced attorneys. Membership is required for all services, including creating documents. However, there is a seven-day trial, and non-members are permitted to use the services at a reasonable price.
Employment Law Information Network – Employment Contract Provisions
This Sample Employment Contract Provisions resource is for those who need information about standard employment contracts. Selecting individual requirements within the index results in additional information and samples of the provision. This explanatory index is free.
Lex Mundi – Resource Guide for International Business Transactions
Looking to do business overseas? If so, this free guide on cross-border transactions will prove helpful. In addition to recommended publications, there are online databases, websites and course materials. Topics include attorney-client privilege, arbitration, import and export, and treaties. Links are provided for additional details.
Duke Law – Transactional Resources: Tools for Doing a Deal
If you need direction drafting or negotiating contracts or other transactional work, this free, extensive list of resources and tools on corporate transactions from Duke Law may be useful. Resources offered are for businesses involved in employment contracts, mergers and acquisitions, security offerings and other corporate transactions. Recommended materials include books, drafting guides, newsletters, blogs, checklists and sample forms.
LegalZoom – Letter of Intent for Business Transaction: How to Guide
Legal Zoom, a reliable website for DIY legal assistance, shares this free how-to guide for drafting a letter of intent for business transactions. Although a simple document, if you follow the instructions, you can help ensure your letter of intent is appropriately formatted and worded, eliminating any misunderstandings among those involved in the transaction. In addition to an overview, the guide contains a “do’s and don’ts” checklist and document template.
LAWPRO – Commercial Transactions Checklist
Communication problems between a client and an attorney might cause serious issues when it comes to documentation in commercial matters. According to LAWPRO, this transaction checklist can reduce the potential for miscommunication. It is available at no cost in PDF, Word, and RTF format. There is also a version of the list in French.
Thomson Reuters – Legal Aspects of Cross-order Transactions
The Thomson Reuters free report on cross-border transactions provides an in-depth look at the trends, difficulties and opportunities for doing business overseas. The report focuses on a comprehensive survey of global law firms and corporations and what the results can mean for those interested in or doing business abroad.
Mergers and Acquisitions
There were over 45,000 transactions mergers and acquisitions in 2020 worldwide with a value exceeding $2.8 trillion, according to the Institute of Mergers, Acquisitions and Alliances.The following resources will help you understand the mergers and acquisitions process and related laws, and why it matters to you as a business professional.
Harvard Law School Library – Mergers and Acquisitions
This Harvard Law School guide can direct you to resources on mergers and acquisitions. Access to many of the databases requires a Harvard University ID and PIN or you can register. The collection includes journals, blogs, articles, books, government data and practice and study aids.
Cornell University – A Legal Guide to Acquisitions and Doing Business in the United States
Acquiring a U.S. company and doing business in the United States comes with many legal challenges. This handbook from Cornell University provides an overview of several legal topics related to acquisitions. Matters covered include general income tax, the impact of labor and employment laws and product liability laws. The guidebook is free.
Barnhart Law – Sample Legal Due Diligence Request List
Due diligence addresses any issues related to the merger or acquisition before the buyer commits. This free sample of legal due diligence request checklist touches on tax matters, insurance, benefit plans, litigation and many other factors that should be considered during due diligence.
Commercial Dispute Resolution
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Dispute resolution in a company or between distinct individuals or organizations is a normal part of running a business. Whether the conflict is between you and a shareholder or a business contact, resolution must be sought for the betterment of the company. Understanding how to handle disputes is important for businesses. This section offers information and dispute resolution resources.
FindLaw – Alternative Dispute Resolution Basics for Those in Business
Alternative Dispute Resolution Basics for Those in Business discusses the use of mediation and arbitration to resolve conflict. The steps involved in each process are highlighted clearly and concisely. While the arbitration segment examines arbitration proceedings specific to Texas, it represents what a business professional might anticipate in any state.
Harvard Business Review – Five Ways to Keep Disputes Out of Court
Written by John R. Allison, Five Ways to Keep Disputes Out of Court on the Harvard Business Review site thoroughly covers the adversary resolution system and its five ways to keep disputes out of court. The methods include mediation, arbitration, the rent-a-judge program, summary jury trial and minitrial. The author offers real-life examples of each in this free. article.
Family Business – The Family Business Conflict Resolution Handbook
Operating as a family business with your loved ones brings unique challenges to a workplace. With this conflict handbook aimed at family businesses, you will learn to understand, manage and resolve conflict with those closest to you. The author covers issues including rivalries, marital matters and seeking assistance. This handbook is available for purchase.
American Arbitration Association – A Guide to Commercial Mediation and Arbitration for Business People
This free guidebook for businesspeople by the American Arbitration Association covers mediation, arbitration and the National Roster of Neutrals. An explanation of each dispute resolution method is given along with the stages of and differences between mediation and arbitration. There is also a glossary of dispute resolution terms and a checklist for initiating arbitration.
World Bank – Mediation Essentials
According to the World Bank, “Mediation Essentials is an introductory guide to alternative dispute resolution, focusing primarily on commercial mediation.” This free manual is a must-have for any business professional seeking to resolve workplace conflict. In addition to covering mediation and arbitration, the guide provides a list of commonly used dispute resolution terms.
Business Law Training and Education
The law and business are fundamentally connected. However, business professionals often do not have a comprehensive understanding of the federal, state or local guidelines one must adhere to during the operation of a business.
If you are considering advancing your legal knowledge through a degree program, you might look for a master’s in legal studies, such as an online Master of Legal Studies. Many of the programs take about one year to complete and may offer concentrations in employment law or corporate compliance that are related to business operations.
An alternative to traditional college courses is legal certificate programs, which are relatively short and offered online, making it convenient to study when you are able.
Last updated: April 2021