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Family and Closely Held Business

Industry, company and product knowledge is at the heart of our relationship with our family and closely held business clients

We guide clients through their legal issues in ways that support their goals for growth, efficiency, speed to market and quality. From contract analysis to human resource issues, from intellectual property protection to tax and environmental compliance, we can provide the experience you need to stay competitive and develop your business.

Structuring the Business and Governance

In accordance with your strategy, we create the appropriate tax-advantaged organizational structure, as well as governing documents and transition templates that are critical to sustainability and growth. Services include:

  • Limited liability companies and corporations
  • General partnerships and limited partnerships
  • Joint ventures and business partnerships
  • Changes in ownership and voting rights
  • Boards and oversight committees
  • Mechanisms for buyout, valuation and reinvestment

Running the Business

Managing the bottom line involves nurturing growth and innovation, minimizing risk in distribution networks and supply chains, complying with regulatory agencies, protecting assets, and effectively managing taxes. Services routinely provided include:

  • Original equipment manufacturer, distributor and dealer
  • Facility and equipment acquisitions or leases
  • Supply and requirement contracts
  • Bank loans and other financing
  • Customer negotiations and contracts
  • Service, purchasing, support, and maintenance agreements
  • Contract litigation and pricing disputes
  • Planning to minimize federal, state, and local tax liability
  • State and federal compliance – minutes, annual reports, qualifications, etc.
  • Patent, trademark, trade name, trade secret, know-how and copyright protection
  • Acquisitions, divestitures and joint ventures

Managing Employees

Getting the right people, keeping the right people and managing the right people are particularly important to family and closely held businesses. Directed by your needs, we look for practical, cost-effective business solutions while holding to sound human resource principles. Our practice encompasses:

  • General employment law
  • Compensation for nonfamily, nonowner executives
  • Employment policies, handbooks and practices
  • Discharge planning and wrongful discharge
  • Wage-hour investigations and litigation
  • Employment litigation defense
  • Immigration
  • Executive compensation and ownership issues

Succession Planning

Each person has a vision for life and the legacy he or she will leave behind. It often centers on preserving and transferring a business to the next generation. It may include the desire to assist family members and other loved ones in achieving their potential. Giving back to the community may also be an important part of the vision. Our knowledge of the most sophisticated tax and planning techniques permits us to offer a broad range of services to fit your needs, ranging from the simplest plans to the most complex:

  • Estate plans, wills and trusts (revocable living and irrevocable)
  • Succession planning (ownership and management)
  • Wealth transfer and control
  • Gift planning
  • Charitable giving
  • Private foundations
  • Guardianships and conservatorships
  • Marital agreements
  • Tax consulting and compliance

Exit Strategy

If you decide to sell a part, or all, of your business, we work with you on how best to protect your interests and maximize return.

  • Valuation
  • Sale of business
  • Evaluation of alternative exit options
  • Structuring for a significant wealth event

Other Legal Services

From time to time, clients need assistance navigating regulatory issues, environmental matters, and/or disposition or acquisition of real estate. As a full-service law firm, Varnum has significant experience in these areas so you can rely on immediate help as issues arise. These may include:

  • Compliance with regulatory requirements, such as those relating to environmental matters, labor, and worker and product safety
  • Advise on the scope and consequences of environmental laws and regulations
  • Counsel on future plans, including air quality, regulatory compliance, waste management, and compliance audits of facilities
  • Due diligence to minimize environmental liabilities when purchasing property
  • Acquisitions, dispositions, and exchanges of property
  • Assistance with industrial leasing, property financing, and tax abatement

“Varnum is an invaluable and trusted service provider for our business’ banking, finance and transaction requirements. Their experience, service excellence and legal acumen are significant influencers to our company’s past, current and future successes.”

CFO, family-owned agribusiness

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