What is a Wedding Business Lawyer?
Put simply, a wedding business lawyer provides legal advice to wedding businesses (and people think lawyers are verbose). For most attorneys with a general business law practice, a lot of time is spent learning the the ins and outs of a particular industry or trade before any meaningful representation can occur. Trial testimony and contracts can be loaded with jargon and industry customs, so the attorney must know it at least as well as the client.
One of my first clients owned a company that fabricated metal casings for glass displays. As we were defending a lawsuit, I had to jump in and learn the process rather quickly. Often, I visited the plant and watched the guys weld metal, fit the glass, and install the finished product, all the while asking millions of questions (I wanted a hard hat, they said I didn’t need one). By the end of my representation, I was walking the walk and talking the talk (“Hey guys, Griswold’s having a harder time with that smoke baffle install than he did getting into those work pants. Am I right? Guys?”) Without this firsthand knowledge, it would have been impossible to defend our case. In other words, being an effective business attorney requires going Daniel Day Lewis on the particular industry that is being represented. This is no less true for the Wedding Industry.
Providing worthwhile business and legal advice to a wedding vendor requires the same level of experience and exposure. The wedding industry maintains some pretty peculiar quirks. Staying out of trouble can be trickier that fitting metal with glass. Way trickier.
What Does a Wedding Business Lawyer Do for Wedding Vendors?
A wedding business lawyer can provide an array of services to wedding vendors. I like to divide such legal services into two categories: Transactional (“Friendsies”) and Dispute Resolution (“Enemies”).
Transactional: Services in this category include business entity formation (LLCs, INCS, LLPs, etc), trademark and copyright registration, client and vendor contract drafting and/or review, licensing, and other similar endeavors. This is where the legal professional helps the wedding industry professional take proactive steps to lower the liabilities that come with running a business.
Dispute Resolution: Services in this category include drafting cease and desist letters (i.e., “Stop infringing on my copyright/trademark”), drafting nastygrams (i.e., “pay me my money!”), negotiating settlement disputes (e.g. partial refund in exchange for non-disparagement), and representation in court. This is where the legal professional helps the wedding industry professional use the legal system to protect revenue or prevent revenue loss.
What Does a Wedding Business Lawyer NOT Do?
A wedding business lawyer doesn’t do family law (at least, not this one!). In other words, no divorces, prenups, or custody matters.
When Do I Need a Wedding Business Lawyer?
Most wedding professionals will need the advice of an attorney at least once in their career. However, I advise that, at minimum, every business owner consult with an attorney over all things paper (client/vendor contracts and operating agreements). Problems with these documents cause the most head aches.