In the vast and complex world of business law, having a knowledgeable and experienced attorney by your side can make a world of difference. In this exclusive interview, LawyerGuide.com had the pleasure of speaking with the founder of Judex Law, Tosh Grebenik, an experienced business law attorney who brings not only a wealth of legal expertise but also a deep understanding of the challenges and triumphs faced by business owners. In this exclusive interview, he shares invaluable insights for business owners seeking legal counsel in Broomfield and beyond.
What motivated you to pursue a career in law and become an attorney?
I’ve always wanted to help people. You always hear about people who, if only they’d known the right people, or if only they’d known the right information, maybe it could have changed the outcome of their situation or even changed their life path. I always think back to this really fun story from my wife. When she was a little girl, they went and had a family photo shoot and it was great. They did the photo shoots, and then they noticed later that… the photo from the photo shoot was essentially the marquee photo for his advertising. They thought it was so neat and had requested to have the photo when the photographer was done with his advertising campaign. He said, no, not a chance.
Well, they happened to have a friend who was an attorney, and they happened to be mentioning the situation during a conversation. Their friend had asked if they signed any waivers or had agreed to anything with the photographer. My wife’s parents said, “Well, no, we were just, you know, asking about it.” He responded, “Okay, just curious.” Lo and behold, the photograph was on their doorstep the next morning. It is not to say that knowing the law needs to be used as a weapon, just that it’s always neat to be able to inform people of their rights and be able to help them in situations they didn’t even know that they could get help.
What does Judex Law stand for, and what principles guide your practice?
Judex is an interesting name. I was trying to figure out a name for my law firm, and through, I did a 23andMe and found out that I’m 24% Ashkenazi Jew, so, you know, Maslatov! I had no idea! So, we were trying to think of a name, and so my wife had the idea to look up what the word judge was in Hebrew, and it’s Judex. We thought it was kind of a fun name so the name of the firm is Judex Law.
Basically, I just view every client as if it were my situation or my business. I have a business degree, so I tend to try to approach these things as more of a businessman with a law degree than a lawyer with a business degree. With that businessman mindset, I talk through with each client how I can best help them or how we can resolve different issues, maybe even outside of the legal world.
Part of my hope is to be able to use the knowledge, experiences, and frankly hard knocks that I have learned through running two companies and pass them along to my clients and those around me. Anything that I can do to help make it easier for people on their journey of business ownership.
What are the key legal insights business owners should consider in forming a business?
My perspective kind of harkens back to Benjamin Franklin when he was speaking about fires in the 1700s. He talked about how an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Back then, he was saying, let’s try to prevent fires because it’s way easier to prevent them than handling the fire itself. The same principle applies to the legal world. If you are willing to put a little bit of time and resources into early legal work, the time, expense, frustration, and headache it will save you, in the long run, is immense. Varying from avoiding litigation to avoiding personal liability in certain situations, I mean it can be hugely different. I help small business owners and new entrepreneurs figure out what type of entity to get into, ranging from a sole proprietor to an LLC, to a partnership or an S-corp. We talk about if you should have employees versus independent contractors. We talk about what type of contracts you should have. Having a business law attorney by your side to help make sound decisions in creating the business entity, business contracts, etc., is immensely impactful.
Two of the key things I would remind people as they are going through the process are:
1. Even if you don’t end up using an attorney, it is critical to get as many of your business transactions down in writing as possible. As much as you may like the person, as much as you may trust the person you’re in business with, when it comes to money, people change. If it’s not written, even if you have a strong oral agreement, it’s hard to enforce. It makes it hard to handle on the legal side if it’s just an oral agreement. Always try to get as much written down as you can.
2. It is best practice to keep your personal finances and business finances separate from the very beginning. Many have the idea that they are forming a limited liability company, an LLC, to avoid personal liability, which is a legal liability on you personally. In an LLC, you have your business, the business has whatever assets or income, and then if you get sued, the idea is they can only sue what’s in the business and not what’s in your name, like your house, your car, or your personal bank accounts. However, there are things that, if you don’t do them correctly, you can actually be made personally liable. Chief among them is what’s called co-mingling of funds. This is where if you don’t keep separate books, separate records, and separate bank accounts for your personal against your business, the courts basically view it in the same way. They say, “Look, if you’re not going to take the time and effort to separate your personal and business, we’re not going to do it for you,” this is what’s called piercing the corporate veil. Therefore, a business lawsuit might actually end up being a personal liability if you don’t have everything done correctly. The reason you form LLCs, limited partnerships, S-Corps, and things like this is to protect against this exact situation. Even if you’ve formed it, if you don’t operate it correctly, you can actually negate all of the good that forming it would have done. So, it’s things like this that I try to walk my new business and small business clients through and just help them avoid certain pitfalls and things to look for and advice like that.
Listen, all new businesses; you’re not expected to do it perfectly. Even the IRS acknowledges this. You’re supposed to keep separate personal and business bank accounts and separate personal and business records. However, the IRS says, “Look, of course, you’re going to have to fund the business when it starts from your personal bank account.” So, they acknowledge that your personal account is going to be a little bit used and in flux with the business, but what I always tell people is to try to still create the process. That way, when you do start having money, and you start having revenue that you can count on, the process is in place.
In other words, business income goes into a business bank account, business expenses get paid out of the business bank account, and then what’s left, you can transfer to your personal account as income. Well, if the business is starting, you don’t have any revenue to pay the expenses or anything like that. As opposed to paying it personally or out of your personal bank account, you just transfer it from your personal bank account to the business bank account and then go through that same process where you pay it out of the business bank account. Maybe you write checks, maybe you have a business credit card, things like this. But that’s the start of the process and then you just replace the personal account transfers to actual business revenue. But you’ve already started the process and that’s how you kind of walk down and create those habits and those processes to guide the business in the way that it’s supposed to be.
When someone is looking for a business law attorney to help guide them through these processes, what would you give them as advice for finding the right attorney for them?
I think I would find someone who has the experience, someone who’s probably willing to give an initial free consultation, and I would ask about capacity, right? There are great attorneys out there, and people tend to flock to those attorneys. Ask, “Hey, do you have the capacity to take me on?” Just because someone does have capacity doesn’t mean they’re a bad attorney. I’m just saying you want to find out if the attorney can devote some time to your case. Ask, “Can you talk me through what you think the next steps would be?” If you have a real niche or nuanced business area, maybe find an attorney that knows about it and understands the process. Most importantly, at least hire someone who has business experience, right? Probably don’t hire, say, a patent attorney to help with business law. I equate that to, you know, asking your knee surgeon to look at your shoulder. There are services out there like LegalZoom that can work for specific cookie-cutter scenarios, but remember, if your business is very nuanced, a small amount of legal fees upfront is significantly more efficient than large amounts of legal fees later. If you get into litigation, it’s just time and expense, and it’s awful. I do everything I can to help keep my clients out of litigation.
In general, during business ownership, it is essential to surround yourself with a team of professionals. Find yourself someone who’s really good in accounting, taxes, bookkeeping, and that type of thing. Find someone who’s a legal professional. Find maybe just a general business coach who you can just bounce ideas off of. Surround yourself with other entrepreneurs, people who can give you knowledge that you don’t have to learn the hard way yourself. You will be in a much better position being able to just ask the experts, even if you have to pay for some of that advice. Go to the attorney, go to the tax person, go to the business coach, and ask, “Hey, can I steal an hour?” “What’s your rate for an hour?” “I have all these questions; let’s go through them.” It’ll be worth that time in gold to be able to go through that and avoid a lot of pitfalls that they will probably walk you through.
It’s scary to start a business; you wear all the hats. You’re the CEO, you’re the CFO, you’re the chief technology officer, you’re the marketing, you’re the HR, you’re everything. The last thing you also want to be is the tax person, the bookkeeper, the attorney, things that you can delegate or that are just beyond your expertise. Like if you have to look for property, you find a realtor. You don’t spend hours and hours every day driving around. You’ll find someone who ‘s their specialty, right? So, utilize people in their area of expertise, and it’ll do wonders for your business.
Is there anything else that you would really like to share with somebody that is searching for a business law attorney in Broomfield, Colorado?
I think that I would tell you this: First, this description doesn’t apply only to attorneys. Don’t find yourself a yes man. Your significant other, your kids, your mom, that’s your “yes man.” They tell you you’re the best honey type thing. Moms are always the greatest “yes man,” but find someone who’s willing to challenge you. If they were willing to tell you the truth early on, it could have helped guide and shape your business into a more profitable and more efficient business way sooner if they had just said, “That doesn’t seem like the optimal way to approach this, maybe there’s another way to do it.” They don’t necessarily have to have the solution, but they at least need to be a sounding block. You want someone that’s going to kind of pause you along the way and say, “What about this? What about that?” Attorneys can do that; a good business coach can do that.
So, if you’re looking for an attorney, find someone who will at least look beyond just the legal issues. I try to act as something of a conciliary, just general advice for my business clients to say, hey, have you tried to approach it this way? There’s guerrilla marketing, and there’s conventional marketing. You know, there’s SEO, there are different things like this, and I have contacts who I refer to get specialized advice in those areas. Just find someone who’s willing to guide you and not just only stay within their box or be a yes man. My advice would be to just find someone who’s willing to go get in the trenches with you but then keep you honest while you’re in there.
If you’re in search of an exceptional business law attorney in Broomfield, Colorado, or any other legal expert to guide you through the complexities of the law, look no further than LawyerGuide.com’s legal directory. With a vast network of top-notch attorneys, LawyerGuide.com offers a seamless platform to connect you with the perfect legal match for your specific needs. Whether you’re a seasoned entrepreneur or a budding startup, having the right attorney by your side can be the key to your success. Don’t wait; head over to LawyerGuide.com today and find an amazing attorney who will champion your business endeavors and protect your legal interests with unparalleled expertise.
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