8 Facts About Food Lawyers
The food industry is always shifting.
Larger companies acquire smaller companies all the time. The reasons range in multitude but the most common include:
- Market expansion: companies looking to expand their market share
- Access to new technology: Accessing innovative products or technologies of the small company
- Cost savings: Rather than competing, acquiring a company can lead to reduced costs
If you have ever worked on a group project than you know that the merging of ideas can get messy. Things get even messier when money, ideas and resources are involved. That’s why companies hire corporate food lawyers to help them with issues such as these and more.
Also known as “food lawyers” or “corporate counsel,” these professionals help protect food companies and ensure that they follow the law.
Table of Contents
1. Food Lawyers work-in house with organizations and businesses
A food lawyer is a professional who helps food companies be compliant with legal matters. They work for food producers, manufacturers, and distributors to help them navigate the complex laws and regulations surrounding the food industry. If they are hired directly by a company they are known as corporate counsel. Issues that they advise companies on include compliance with food safety regulations, business acquisitions and human resources.
Food lawyers also provide legal representation to companies in the event of disputes related to food regulations or lawsuits. For example, if there was a dispute regarding copyright infringement by another food brand. Additionally, food lawyers are involved in the creation of new food laws and regulations, working with government agencies and other stakeholders to help shape the future of the food industry.
Overall, they stay current with the latest food-related laws and regulations, and help companies stay compliant by providing updates and advice. As well, they must be able to effectively communicate complex legal concepts to clients and other stakeholders in a clear and concise manner.
2. Food Lawyers advise management
Laws and regulations are always changing, and if you didn’t go to law school you might be ignorant of some of them. Senior management of companies rely on Food Lawyer to advise on legal issues that may arise during business operations. They provide legal advice to senior management on issues such as business transactions, compliance with laws and regulations, and potential legal risks.
For example, a company might be looking to expand their business by opening a new manufacturing facility. A food lawyer can advise the company about what laws they must follow if they want to pursue this venture. Additionally, they help keep senior management informed about new legal developments and trends that may impact the company.
3. Food Lawyers negotiate
Another way that a food lawyer helps food companies is by assisting them in negotiations. For example, a cookie company may be looking to enter into a new agreement with a supplier for raisins for their new line of oatmeal raisin cookies. The two companies would co-create an agreement that entails terms such as pricing, quality and delivery terms. Food Lawyer is responsible for creating this document and reviewing it to ensure that it minimizes company risk.
Furthermore, when the companies come together the food lawyer sits in on the meeting and monitors the agreement’s execution, ensuring that negotiations go smoothly. Corporate counsel will assist in negotiations on behalf of the company. The key to having a good negotiation is being thoroughly prepared for the meeting, setting clear goals and trying to build a rapport that benefits both parties. If the agreement is not made clear than this could mean big losses for the company.
4. Food Lawyers are aces at reading and preparing company documents
Legal documents are long and detailed. To the untrained eye they can feel as though they are just long for the sake of it. Well there is a good reason why they are long! It is to protect the company and its employees.
Corporate lawyers are effective at reading and preparing documents. Using their expert communication skills they can assist with a variety of issues. They review and edit documentation related to company policies such as employee handbooks and codes of conduct to ensure they are legally compliant and consistent with best practices. Alternatively, they may assist in the preparation of intellectual property documents, such as patents, trademarks, and copyrights, to protect the company’s intellectual property rights.
5. Food Lawyers have law degrees
Becoming a food lawyer for a food company will depend on the country that you live in. There is no specialized degree to become a food lawyer; however there are some to become a corporate lawyer. In Canada you need at least 90 hours of an undergraduate degree to apply to apply to law school in Canada. Many lawyers choose to get degrees in political science, legal studies, sociology, English and communication as they help to develop writing, communication and critical skills.
However, any major can lead to a law degree. For those looking to practice food law, it may even be beneficial to have a degree in food science, food engineering or food business management as this would provide the lawyer with a unique understanding of the food industry.
After completing their undergraduate degree students are required to take the Law School Admission Test. To become a lawyer in Canada you need to attend a Canadian law school where they can offer specializations such as conflict resolution, innovation and entrepreneurship. Additionally, food lawyers are expected to complete an articling placement (an apprenticeship) where they will be working. This requires passing a bar exam and meeting other requirements set by the province. Continuing legal education is also required to maintain a license to practice.
6. Food Lawyers assist with intellectual property
At the end of the day, food businesses are businesses. They have trade secrets such as recipes or cooking processes, that they would like to keep quiet from the world. Alternatively, they may have a secret that they want to keep quiet.
Did you know that you can’t patent a recipe? Patents are only issued for novel inventions or processes that aren’t obvious. That’s why companies like Coca-Cola can’t patent their recipes. Although they might not want to do that either, as patents are publicly published.
Food Lawyer assets with intangible (non-physical) assets such as patents, trademarks, or trademarks need to be protected by companies to help them maintain their competitive advantage. They will go through their company to discover potential technologies that the company could figure out such as risks that arise during business transactions. For example, a cookie company may have created a plant based egg that they can use in their recipe that has all the same functionality as the original. The company may want to protect this innovation from other organizations.
7. Food Lawyers assist human resources with company policies
If you have ever taken a job at a fast-food chain you will notice that there are a lot of documents that you will have to sign. It feels like there are pages upon pages of information. It’s likely that behind the scenes there is a corporate lawyer that is behind the scenes creating these documents.
Corporate lawyers can assist human resource departments by providing them with guidance on compliance with labour and employment laws. For example, they can provide advice on wage and hour laws to ensure that the organization is in compliance.
Additionally, they may assist human resources with employee relations issues such as how to handle sensitive employees relations such as discrimination, complaints, harassment claims and disciplinary actions. Reviewing and updating company policies: Food Lawyers can review and update company policies and procedures, such as those related to benefits, leaves of absence, and termination, to ensure that they are legally compliant and consistent with best practices. Furthermore, they can help with respect to content, adoption and implementation of certain policies and procedures, benefits, OSHA, labor, contracts and litigation. They may also have a role in developing a company’s policies on industry-specific issues.
8. Food Lawyers are analytical, communicative and strategic
Being a corporate food lawyer requires a wide range of skills. However, there are a few that are more essential than others. These skills include:
- Analytical skills: Corporate food lawyers must be able to analyze complex legal issues and identify potential risks and opportunities. They need to be able to identify
- Communication skills: Corporate food lawyers need to be able to analyze and break down complex legal issues for those who might not be familiar with the conversations. They need to be able to explain legal concepts and issues to non-lawyers in a clear and concise manner.
- Strategic thinking: Corporate food lawyers must be able to think strategically and anticipate potential legal issues that could impact the organization’s long-term goals and objectives.