Starting a Small Business in Wilmington, NC:   Talk With a Wilmington Small Business Attorney
How We Help You. 

Most business owners do not realize is just how inexpensive it actually is to get accurate answers to their legal questions from an experienced business law attorney.  Often, I can answer a question quickly for you and save you many hours of stress and wasted time trying to do it yourself. 
Answers You Can Take to the Bank. sm

Many of my clients call weekly, or 2-3 times a month, with questions about their businesses – can I do this, can I do that, this happened, what should I do, should I be worried about this? and so on.  I have dealt with the full gamut of small business problems and can usually answer your questions quickly, allowing you to move on with your business with the comfort of knowing you can take our answers to the bank. Don't make the mistake of assuming it's going to cost too much – call and find out for yourself. Find out what we are about and what we can do for you. I believe you will be very pleasantly surprised by what we have to say
Legal Help For Wilmington Small Business Owners
Even after you have set up your business entity, and opened your doors, your legal needs do not end there. As a small business owner, you will regularly encounter issues -- mostly small ones at first -- in the following areas:
  • Contracts
  • Transactions
  • Ownership/Management/Shareholder Disputes
  • Litigation
  • Franchising
  • Leases
  • Personal Guaranties on Business Debts
  • Regulatory Compliance, Including Local Ordinances

Getting sound legal help eases the day-to-day worries that beset even the most successful small businesses. At Kerner Law Firm, PLLC, we understand the challenges you face running a small business. We promise to help you solve them. 
Representative Clients
This is a short list of just some of the clients we regularly represent, to provide an idea of the types of clients and industries we serve:
  • Alliance Construction Corp of NC
  • SVR Construction
  • Equalizer, Inc.
  • Cape Fear Solar Systems
  • TrustAtlantic Bank
  • Shaw Motorsports, Inc.
  • Tony's Foreign Auto
  • J. Thomas Builders, LLC
  • Maultsby Construction
  • New Directions Group Care Management, LLC
  • Scott Motorcars
Helping Businesses Deal With North Carolina Law 
Under North Carolina law, small businesses are no different than large businesses. Most of the same laws that govern a large corporation with thousands of shareholders as a small family corporation with two shareholders.
Many small business owners assume that because their business is small (at first) that it does not need the same degree of legal “structuring” as a larger company. And in many instances this is true – to a point. One has to be practical in considering how best to structure a small business, bearing in mind its sometimes limited resources, yet at the same time understanding that the law must be followed.
What many small business owners do not know – but should – is that the State of North Carolina requires a good deal of compliance from them, in exchange for the liability protection they seek to enjoy. The state doesn't simply hand out “get out of liability free” cards to everyone who pays a filing fee and sends in a two page form. If only it were that easy. As the North Carolina Court of Appeals has held, “corporations' special status as creatures of the state exposes them to exhaustive state scrutiny in exchange for the privilege of state recognition.” In re Superior Court Order Dated April 8, 1983, 318 S.E.2d 843, 70 N.C.App. 63 (1984).
The fact is, the North Carolina Business Corporation Act, and the North Carolina Limited Liability Company Act, make no distinction between small businesses and large. If you run a corporation, there is a way things are done. If you have an LLC, there are certain rules you must follow. Period. It does not matter that you are a single owner, or that you only make $10,000 a year, or $10 million. The rules must be followed, and if they are not, substantial penalties and liabilities can follow you – all the way to your personal assets. Helping North Carolina Businesses Deal With Ordinances, Licenses and Regulations
New and/or small business owners are often not aware that there may be laws, restrictions and obscure codes relating to privilege licenses, the size of roadside signs, and other seemingly trivial matters they might never think are covered by actual laws, but are. In the past few years, both privilege licenses (in the case of sweepstakes machines) and roadside signs (for all businesses in the City of Wilmington) have been important legal topics in our federal, state and local courts. Other issues, such as what kinds of trees can be cut, and even things as seemingly trivial as how far back you can cut a crape myrtle (I kid you not) have caused local business owners to incur fines from municipal authorities in recent years.
Of course we all know this is because the governments have squandered our tax money and now need an endless supply of new money to paper over their mistakes. But that's not their problem, it's ours. When they make a mistake, you pay for it.
In 2010 for example, the Federal OSHA threatened to close down NC OSHA for not levying stiff enough penalties for workplace conditions. So within days, NC OSHA went all-out, storming local businesses at random and seeking maximum penalties (often up to $10,000) for even minor violations, “spinning” even the slightest thing into sounding like the most horrible things imaginable, just to save their funding, and their jobs.
Who pays for that? The small business owner.
It's because of things like this (among many other examples) that you need strong legal protection from a law firm that understands what these government agencies are up to – and why – and has the fortitude to challenge them when the time comes. We have handled matters and legal issues involving NC-OSHA, DHHS, the New Hanover County Tax Administrator, the North Carolina Attorney General, among others. What we have found is this: coming in strong, right from the beginning, you can get a lot of these agencies to back down quickly, because the last thing they want is (a) a huge fight on their hands, and (b) to have their antics exposed in public. They make their living picking the “low hanging fruit”, and in general terms, companies who lack experienced business counsel are viewed that way. You may be tough, and you may be a fighter, but they know the law and they know the system, and if you don't know it like they do, they won't think twice about coming after you. 
Representative Cases Involving Administrative Agencies.
DHHS v. Columbus Group Homes, Inc., 10 DHR 7220.  Defended Columbus County group care home in case involving $10,000.00 administrative penalty by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services; following discovery, State dismissed case and client paid no fine.

NC Dept. of Labor v. Alliance Construction Corp. of NC, OSHANC 2011-5139. Defended builder in case involving penalties for alleged OSHA violations; fine reduced by more than 50% with no admission of liability or wrongdoing. 
State ex rel. Cooper v. Heil, et al  (08 CVS 9961, Wake County).   Defended paving contractor against North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper in Deceptive Trade Practices alleging actions in multiple counties and seeking in excess of $1.4 million in damages; settled for $50,400.00.

If you are starting a small business, you should have an experienced Wilmington small business lawyer on your side. If you already own a successful business, but still have ongoing legal questions you need answered, we will help you.  Call us at 910-509-7241, or email us.