As a lawyer, of course you would think my answer to the question “Do health coaches need a lawyer” to be “Yes, of course they do!” But even my pro-lawyer bias gives way to interpreting the words on the page (a skill lawyers tend to master). No, coaches do not “need” a lawyer. Need implies a requirement, and there is no legal or ethical requirement that dictates that practicing health coaches need a lawyer. Lawyers, after all, are expensive and can complicate your plans.
But, having a good lawyer does serve a purpose, even for health and wellness coaches, an unregulated industry. A good wellness lawyer can offer solutions to problems that can help your coaching practice minimize legal risk and even protect your coveted assets (which are your personal belongings and your entrepreneurial ideas).
What are those risks from which a good wellness lawyer can help you avoid? A brief list includes:
Risk to your business model from actions taken by state licensing boards;
Risk to your personal or business reputation from complaints by competitors;
Risk to your personal assets from lack of adequate protection through legal entity status and/or professional liability insurance;
Risk to your business and/or professional resources (including time and money) resulting from poorly drafted agreements;
Risk of federal investigations for misunderstood language on your website or promotional materials;
Risk of being swindled or overtaken by others through stealing of your ideas;
Risk of not making more money because of fear that you can’t do something with your business, and you actually can.
A lawyer knowledgeable in health and wellness law will have a good handle on these and other potential risks to your health and wellness coaching business. They should have knowledge about state and federal laws that affect health and wellness practices, such as HIPAA, worker’s compensation, state licensure laws, state fee-splitting laws, federal fraud and abuse laws (Stark and Anti-kickback), legal entity formation; intellectual property protection (trademarks, copyrights and patents), contract drafting and reviewing, employment law issues, basic tax law issues, data privacy and security laws, malpractice law, and ethical behavior.
Having a solid legal partner is as important as having a trusted accountant, IT professional, or insurance agent; none of these professionals are required for you to operate your coaching business, but good ones can add a lot of value and save you from a lot of headaches. As an entrepreneur myself, I know exactly how it feels to spend money that feels wasted. Each dollar spent on overhead translates to fewer dollars in your pocket and fewer dollars that can be spent on improving your craft. But, a good team of advisors can free up other valuable resources so you can perform and feel at your best. Feeling confident in what you do is priceless.
So, in answer to the initial question, although health and wellness coaches do not need a lawyer, they should have one. If you are ready to find your legal partner, contact our firm today at www.wellnesslaw.com.