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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.

For more information, please contact either your Varnum attorney, or Scott Hill at 616/336-6929 or

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:

  • OEM/distributor/dealer arrangements
  • 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 complianceminutes, annual reports, qualifications, etc.
  • Protecting patents, trademarks, trade names, trade secrets, know-how, and copyrights
  • Acquisitions, divestitures, 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 non-family, non-owner 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

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 significant wealth event

Specialty 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

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