40+ Legal Resources for Business Professionals

40+ Legal Resources for Business Professionals

Articles, Guides, Checklists and More to Help You Manage the Legal Side of Business

In business, it is essential that those managing the company are prepared to address issues, including legal matters, whenever necessary. 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 leaves managers or owners with very 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.

To protect yourself and business,this list of trusted legal resources provides legal information crucial for business owners. Many listed are available for free to non-lawyers while some require either purchase, subscription or membership.

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General Business Law Resources

In addition to marketing, financial, and HR skills, knowledge of legal matters will help ensure you are in an ideal position to address your company’s needs. This group of resources includes collections of videos, articles and worksheets that cover 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 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. These webinars are available for purchase from the American Bar Association. 

American Bar Association – Business Law Resources

With over 20 years’ worth of conference, committee and meeting materials and audio files, you will have no problem finding relevant legal information for your business needs. Coverage addresses issues affecting 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, look no further than Business Law Today. This American Bar Association digital platform provides a library of member and author spotlight videos in which discussions and interviews focus on several legal areas including internet law, finance, dispute resolution,and business regulations. These videos are available for free. 

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 available for print or sharing at the touch of a button.

University of Central Oklahoma – Business Law Glossary

Legal language can be hard to decipher. If you are looking for definitions to any number of legal terms, this glossary is ideal. Available in a free, printable PDF format, this wordlist is helpful when working with business law issues.

Society for Human Resource Management Resources & Tools – Employment Law

Looking for information regarding employment law? The SHRM site contains plenty of resources and tools for handling HR matters. Tools include how-to guides, a free employee handbook template and HR forms. Articles cover topics from communication, workplace harassment prevention and arbitration agreements. Some tools and resources require membership, the price of which varies depending on membership level.

Fletcher Tilton Knowledge Library – Business & Corporate Resource Library

The Fletcher Tilton law firm covers many issues in its comprehensive library of business and corporate articles. These resources are available free of charge in printable, PDF format and focus on various subject matters including LLCs vs. S Corps, the Family & Medical Leave Act and tips for setting up a business. 

UpCounsel – On-Demand Business Law Services

If your business does not have in-house counsel and needs consultation or legal work performed, consider UpCounsel. This company has over 5,000 experienced attorneys that can provide consultation or complete your required 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

With competition and open markets come concerns about antitrust issues. 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 that provide greater detail about several antitrust topics.  

Small Business Forum – Legal Issues Discussion Board

Networking can be a powerful way to discover new ways to approach complex legal topics for your business. This online forum offers you the opportunity to 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 of charge. 

U.S. Small Business Administration – Stay Legally Compliant

Maintaining legal compliance with state and federal laws can prevent you and your business from facing 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 are offered for permits, licenses, certificates and tax filing information. All information is available for free.

IRS – Tax Information for Businesses

No one likes discussing taxes, but when it comes to self-employment or running a business, they are a necessity. Correctly preparing and filing taxes will help protect you and your business 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.

U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division – ADA Business Connect

When managing or running a business, you must ensure its policies meet the requirements 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.  In addition to publications for businesses, forms and departmental links are available if needed. All information is provided for free.

U.S. Department of Labor – Occupational Safety and Health Act Compliance Assistance Quick Start

Preventing workplace injuries and illnesses is crucial, especially for industries like logistics and construction that must comply with particular OSHA requirements. This site offers step-by-step guides to help you understand industry requirements. This free information is not comprehensive and is considered advisory only. 

SCORE – Business Legal Issues Resources

SCORE, a non-profit organization, is a resource partner with the U.S. Small Business Administration. It relies on a vast network of volunteers and expert business mentors to help small business owners at no cost. A combination of articles, blog posts and webinars focus on the legal issues businesses face today, including writing contracts and small business insurance. Confidential business mentoring is also available at no charge and can be conducted in-person, or by email, phone or video. 

National Federation of Independent Business – Small Business Legal Center

Fighting for, educating and assisting small businesses is what the NFIB, a non-profit organization, is all about. Whether it be relevant local or national policy updates or strategies on how to grow your business, the information offered is comprehensive and invaluable to a small business owner. Free resources include articles and videos that cover 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 a wide range of 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 is for you. The curriculum will take you through key concepts related to financial planning and analysis, organizational development, private equity and more. Tools used for the course include videos, interactive exercises, assessment and evaluation.

Small Business Law – Small Business Legal Checklist

Here is a free small business legal checklist that is quick to fill out. This checklist can help shed light on any legal areas that may be weak in your company, such as licensing, leases or partnership agreements. A free no-obligation consultation is offered if you have any questions once you have completed the checklist. 

U.S. Small Business Administration – Legal Requirements Worksheet

If you are still in the planning stage of starting a new small business, this worksheet will help identify areas that might require more legal research on your part. 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 provided free of charge.

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Business Documents, Contracts and Transactions

When running your business, it is essential that paperwork, including contracts and transactions, is correctly filled out and recorded. Using templates for your document needs will help protect you against legal issues from using incorrect forms and improper terminology. 

Business Management Daily – HR Forms

Business Management Daily provides over 125 free, customizable HR forms that are necessary for many areas of business. Categories include privacy policy guidelines, safety and health forms and COBRA forms, among others. Business Management Daily also has special reports on management topics, job descriptions, interview questions, and hiring checklists. 

Rocket Lawyer – Essential Business Documents

Creating consistent legal documents is simple with the document builder 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 7-day trial, and non-members are permitted to use the services at a reasonable price.

Cornell University (edX) – Structuring Business Agreements for Success

This free Cornell University course will provide business professionals with legal terms and concepts related to contracts. During the five-week class, you will learn how legal arguments are constructed along with contract principles and guidelines. The course covers a range of practical information and topics structured by Cornell Law professors and practicing attorneys.

Employment Law Information Network – Employment Contract Provisions

This index is designed for those who need information regarding common provisions for 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 resource guide will prove helpful. In addition to recommended publications, the list contains online databases, websites and course materials. Topics are wide ranging and include attorney-client privilege, arbitration, import and export, and treaties. Links are provided for additional details and information.

Duke Law – Transactional Resources: Tools for Doing a Deal

If you need direction when it comes to drafting or negotiating contracts or other transactional work, this free, extensive list of resources and tools from Duke Law will 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 will 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 can cause serious issues when it comes to documentation in commercial matters. According to LAWPRO, the company received almost 3,000 claims related to commercial law practice between 2000-2016. Reducing the potential for miscommunication can be accomplished with the help of this transaction checklist. 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 Border Transactions

The Thomson Reuters free PDF report provides an in-depth look at the trends, difficulties and opportunities for doing business overseas. Focusing on a comprehensive survey of global law firms and corporates conducted by Thomson Reuters, the report examines what the survey results can mean for those interested in or currently participating in business abroad.

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Mergers & Acquisitions

One theme in the business world is mergers and acquisitions. According to the Institute of Mergers, Acquisitions and Alliances over 5,000 transactions have taken place in the first six months of 2019, with a value exceeding $825 billion. 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 & Acquisitions

This Harvard Law School guide will direct you to legal and informational resources on mergers and acquisitions. Access to many of the databases listed requires a Harvard University ID and PIN or for you to 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 brings about 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 available at no cost.

Barnhart Law – Sample Legal Due Diligence Request List

Any merger and acquisition transaction requires due diligence. Due diligence addresses any issues related to the merger or acquisition before the buyer commits. This free sample list touches on tax matters, insurance, benefit plans, litigation, and many other factors that should be considered during due diligence. Using the document as a template will help make sure all necessary steps are taken during an acquisition or merger.

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Commercial Dispute Resolution

Dispute resolution, either within a company or between distinct individuals or organizations, are 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 key to business success. This section offers information and dispute resolution resources.

FindLaw – Alternative Dispute Resolution Basics for Those in Business

This article discusses the use of mediation and arbitration processes 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. Laws regarding dispute resolution vary state to state.

Harvard Business Review – Five Ways to Keep Disputes Out of Court

Written by John R. Allison, this article on the Harvard Business Review site discusses in detail the Adversary Resolution System and its five ways to keep disputes out of court. The five methods include mediation, arbitration, the rent-a-judge program, summary jury trial and minitrial. The author offers real life examples of each. The article is available for free.

Family Business – The Family Business Conflict Resolution Handbook

Operating as a family business with your loved ones brings a host of 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 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. A glossary of dispute resolution terms and a checklist for initiating arbitration is also included. 

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 who is seeking information on resolving workplace conflict. In addition to covering both mediation and arbitration, the guide provides a list of commonly used dispute resolution terms.

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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. Unlike the commitment of traditional college courses, these certificate courses are relatively short and offered online, making it convenient to study when you are able.

Cornell University – Business Law Certificate

This certificate series consists of four courses and is designed for entrepreneurs and business professionals alike. Topics covered include foundational legal concepts, business structures, contracts, tax planning and litigation. With a duration of two months and a 100% online format, students can complete the program with only a 3- to 5-hour-a-week commitment. Course materials include videos, downloadable tools, course projects and activities. 

University of Southern California – Business Law Certificate

Helping the non-lawyer become familiar with how laws and policies influence today’s businesses is the focus of this online certificate program. Students are required to complete 12 units during the nine-month program. Courses offered encompass business principles in law, business organizations and securities regulation, among others. 

The University of Texas at Austin – Business Law Specialist Certificate 

This certificate is designed for business professionals that have prior legal education. Although this program is self-paced, it must be completed within six months of registration. Courses include business organizations, accounting law and electives. Materials used include exercises, lecture notes, quizzes and instructor guidance. 

American University – Online Master of Legal Studies, Business Concentration (Sponsored Program)

The online Master of Legal Studies from American University provides an ideal opportunity for business professionals to gain legal knowledge and training without practicing law as a career. Although coursework is completed online, one on-campus learning experience in Washington D.C. is required. The program runs for 15 months and offers specialized concentrations in General MLS, Business, Health Care Compliance, and Technology. 

Pepperdine University – Online Master of Legal Studies, Dispute Resolution and Human Resources Concentrations (Sponsored Program)

As a business professional, having a foundational understanding of laws and how they can affect your industry is beneficial to the day-to-day activities of your business. The online Master of Legal Studies from Pepperdine University is a 32-unit program that can take 16 to 28 months to complete. Two on-campus residencies are required. 

In addition to offering core courses that cover several topics including contracts, legal writing and constitutional law, students have the option to choose two optional concentrations: HR or dispute resolution. 

Washington University – Online Master of Legal Studies, Business Certificates (Sponsored Program)

Ranked #18 in the top 20 Best Law Schools by US News & World Report, Washington University offers its law education to non-lawyers who are interested in acquiring the legal knowledge that can help advance their career or improve their marketability. The online program offers five certificates, allowing you to specialize in business law, conflict resolution, litigation, regulatory compliance, and employment law. Prior enrollment in the MLS program and completion of nine credits from predefined courses is required.

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