If you’re a business coach or business strategist with any level of experience, you’ve probably had your fair share of legal questions come up with your coaching clients. 

This is a tricky area to navigate.

Let’s be real — if you’ve never made a business mistake, are you a real business owner?

That being said, not all mistakes are created equal. And certainly not in the eyes of the law.

We want to help you avoid making the *extremely* risky mistake of providing legal advice. Remember you are a business coach, not a legal expert.

(Leave the legal stuff to us!)

How to Handle Legal Questions as a Business Coach

It’s important you know that the Unauthorized Practice of Law (UPL) is a crime in all 50 U.S. states. 

Walking the line between giving advice and committing UPL can feel overwhelming.

You might be thinking, “How do I give my clients sound and supportive coaching and advice without venturing into giving *legal* advice?”

Good question!

Let’s dive into how to navigate your clients’ legal questions professionally and cautiously.

We’re gonna take a look at the four most common legal questions business coaches run into and give you an idea of how to handle them without ever committing UPL.

1. “My client asked for a contract to use. What do I do?”

First things first, whatever you do, do not give your client a contract you created for them to use in selling their services.

If anything goes wrong while using a contract that you guaranteed would be feasible, you could be subject to potential blame or even legal liability.

The best thing to do in this situation is to advise your client to seek legal support from a specialized provider who can also offer attorney-client privileges.

This might look like upgrading their client contracts and website agreements through our Coaches & Company’s Contract Shop, where we provide contracts for coaches of all kinds.

It’s a great option for business coaching clients because many times the client’s response to your suggestion of hiring a legal professional one-on-one is, “I dunno… it’s just so expensive you know, like do I really need it?”

And you’re thinking, “Yeah, you really do need it!”

The truth is, though, that hiring a law firm for legal services is out of budget for many small business owners and early-stage startup businesses.

Industry-specific contract templates through Coaches & Company are an awesome way to be able to guide your clients to a more affordable, lawyer-approved option that can help them protect themselves legally.

Not to mention, being able to earn a commission off this recommendation as an affiliate is a pretty sweet deal.

We have a stellar affiliate program that pays out thousands of dollars every month to our active affiliates, who each gain a passive income stream simply by recommending our products to their clients or students.

By suggesting Coaches & Co. contract templates for coaches or encouraging your clients to seek legal support, you don’t leave them hanging or without a clue of where to turn to next.

You are actually delivering to them valuable guidance all while shielding yourself from liability and avoiding the UPL.

Bonus tip: As a business advisor, coach, consultant, or strategist, it’s also a great practice to have a list of lawyers or attorneys who specialize in supporting your clients’ types of businesses, so that you can confidently and preparedly share a recommendation in the event that they need to hire someone for one-on-one, personalized legal support.

2. “My client asked for legal business advice. Help!”

OK, so this one is maybe not so much a question, but rather a cry for help.

But nevertheless, we’ve got answers.

Here are some legal questions that you want to avoid answering:

  • Should I get an LLC or corporation?
  • Should I form my business entity in Florida or California?
  • Should I be a C corporation or an S corporation?
  • How can I register my trademark?
  • Do you think my trademark is infringing on this other trademark?
  • Is it legal for me to do X, Y, and Z?
  • Can you review my contract?
  • Is this a breach of contract?

This is not to say that you can’t discuss these issues generally with your clients. 

You absolutely can.

The important thing is to notify them right off the bat that you are not providing legal advice and that if they are seeking personalized legal advice, they should hire a licensed legal professional.

Remember, you don’t have to know it all.

Yes, it certainly feels like you do when your business is based on advising your clients, but let that go!

If you are unqualified to answer your client’s question, be honest with them. They will respect you for it. Then, direct them to someone who is.

This way, your client can get the help that they need to solve their problem. Don’t open yourself up to unnecessary liability by answering legal questions you’re not qualified to advise on.

Just have some solid resources in your back pocket to send to your clients, and feel good about helping them get the support they need for their work.

3. “My client asked me tax questions. What now?”

As an experienced business owner, you are probably plenty familiar with taxes at this point. But if your client is coming to you with tax questions, we recommend that you keep it short ‘n sweet.

You may decide to share your personal experience in filing or paying taxes. Or you may have a fab tax professional to recommend to them.

But keep your “tips and tricks” to yourself, my friend. 

Don’t direct your client to take action on anything that relates to taxes, tax deductions, “loopholes” or tax strategies, etc. — because you might be on the hook if things go south for your client or if they get audited by the IRS and face legal issues due to their reliance on your unwarranted financial and tax advice.

Avoid potential liability by never advising your clients on what to do with their taxes. There are tons of tax experts out there that can do that without committing UPL.

Do yourself AND your client a favor: stay in your lane.

4. “My client asked me how to handle a dispute with their own client. What do I say?”

This is another situation where giving a disclaimer is *essential.*

You can, of course, give your opinion or recommendation on how to navigate a difficult client situation. You obviously wanna help them through this!

But remember to clearly state something along the lines of: “I’m going to share with you what I would do or what I did in this situation, but I’m not a lawyer and I’m not providing any legal advice.”

And of course, if there are any legal implications in the situation at hand, recommend that they hire a legal professional right away. 

Bonus tip: If you find yourself facing a questionable situation like this on a client call, it can be helpful to follow up with a written email after the call ends reiterating what you shared on the call along with any necessary disclaimers (see above) as it relates to the recommendations or lessons you shared with the client related to their legal dispute.

What We Covered

As an experienced entrepreneur, you know how important it is to have the legal stuff in order for your business. You don’t want to leave your clients hanging.

We get it.

We know that people are looking to you for advice, guidance, and recommendations.

That’s why business educators, business coaches, business consultants, and business strategists love our Affiliate Program.

We’ve made it easier than ever for leaders to provide guidance to their communities, elevate their client experience, and create a new stream of income in their business. It’s a win all around!

Joining our affiliate program means you will always have a reliable legal resource to recommend to your clients rather than risk giving legal advice yourself. You can learn more about our affiliate program and register as an affiliate here.

Check out our ready-to-use, lawyer-approved, plug-and-play legal contract templates, so you can upgrade your client contract while staying Protected & Profitable™✨

Not sure where to begin? We’ve got you. Grab our FREE Legally Launch Guide to get the legal lowdown on everything in entrepreneurship, without the confusing mumbo jumbo. We’re serving it up straight and to the point. (Heads up: It’ll forever transform the way you view your client relationships!) Grab your copy now!

*The information presented in this blog post is for educational & informational purposes only. This should not be a substitute for customized legal advice from a licensed professional in a private setting. If you need legal advice, please consult with an attorney. This is not a law firm.

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