Family Business and Entrepreneurs

Since it was founded more than 75 years ago, Gould & Ratner has, and continues, to represent some of Chicago’s most prominent entrepreneurs and families. Our lawyers have learned the nuances of representing entrepreneurs and families in a wide range of industries, including manufacturing and distribution, telecommunications, media and technology, financial institutions, gaming, hospitality, construction, and real estate and development. At Gould & Ratner, we are not simply lawyers for your family business, we are your family business lawyers.

Our Family Business and Entrepreneurs Practice is one of the largest teams at the firm devoted to entrepreneurs and family businesses. Our lawyers have literally hundreds of collective years of experience in counseling and advising entrepreneurs and families, bring a significant depth of knowledge in understanding their often unique complexities. Our interdisciplinary team brings practical solutions to entrepreneurs and family businesses every day in nearly each of our practices, from corporate, tax and estate planning to litigation and real estate.

Although many of our lawyers have developed a recognized strength in important core areas of our business practice, our lawyers do not concentrate exclusively in a narrow specialty area like at many other law firms that represent businesses. Our lawyers are cross-trained in different legal disciplines to open them to more options and solutions to our clients’ situations. They anticipate the fast-paced and broad-based needs of our clients, whether an entrepreneur or a fourth-generation business.

Our group also serves the unique needs and demands of family businesses in all of their forms. The businesses can be owned by a single generation or many families across multiple generations. Others are owned by families and managed by non-family members, or even publicly traded companies owned in part by a founding family.

Having handled the issue for countless previous family members, we can help first-generation family businesses anticipate and avoid the problems of successfully transferring the business to future generations while preserving flexibility. Each family has unique characteristics and complex issues to be understood and addressed.

In addition, our leadership in LawExchange International, a global legal network, has helped us build close relationships with high-quality lawyers throughout North America, Europe, Australia, Asia and South America. This organization ensures that our clients’ needs are satisfied seamlessly worldwide.

Representative Matters

  • Advise family and other entrepreneurial businesses on tax efficient ownership structures.
  • Advise multi-generation families and their businesses in developing and implementing strategies to assure transition and continuity of family business activities, long-term wealth transfer and charitable goals.
  • Designed, structured and implemented key management synthetic equity compensation plans to align management goals with family ownership strategic plans.
  • Advisor to active ”hands-on” private philanthropic ventures.
  • Assisted management team in a multimillion-dollar leveraged buyout transaction to acquire equity through qualified and nonstatutory option plans.
  • Designed and implemented a spinoff of unwanted corporate assets from core corporate business operations.
  • Serves as outside general counsel to numerous multigenerational entrepreneurial businesses.
  • Designed, structured and implemented corporate acquisition transactions, including tax-deferred roll-over of management equity.
  • Assisted with tax structure and related planning for acquisition of major retail and related operations out of bankruptcy.
  • Representation of beneficiaries of highly-contested estate involving closely-held family businesses and complex financing issues requiring coordination with international financial lending institution.
  • Advisor to closely held corporate businesses in design and implementation of various deferred compensation and pseudo-equity plans for key management personnel.
  • Assisted owners of a closely held business with the buyout of family members no longer active in the operation of the business.
  • Advisor to family businesses seeking to minimize the onerous C-Corporate taxation without incurring the traditional costs associated with the corporate liquidation process.
  • Advisor to entrepreneurial start-up companies in structuring the interests held by the capital and service providers to maximize the deferral of tax payments and the after-tax proceeds

Family Business and Entrepreneurs Team