Finding the Right Lawyer
Who can your business call for legal help?
Very few people actually like calling a lawyer, let alone going through the process of vetting a potential small business lawyer or paying for a lawyer. Most business owners tend to wait until things are dire, then settle on the first lawyer they can find. This is a shame, especially since hiring the right lawyer can really make all the difference, especially if done before things become dire.
Questions to Ask a Potential Small Business Lawyer
Remember, you are interviewing a lawyer to see how they can handle your business’s issue.
Now as the Marketing Manager at Law 4 Small Business, I should just keep this article short and tell you to hire us. However in the interest of fairness, I’ve written this blog on questions to ask a potential small business lawyer. The goal of this article is to give you the tools to find your best possible lawyer. Ask accordingly:
- What is your practice area?
- This is simple, in theory. You do not want to hire a divorce attorney to write your small business contracts. Find a lawyer that specializes in small business, if not the area your business operates in. General practice attorneys may be good at resolving a specific problem, but they may have difficulty helping you over the long-term. Same issue with litigators.
- Has the lawyer or their firm handled a case like this? Ideally, a potential small business lawyer will have experience with cases similar to yours. Now is also a great time to ask about their staff and their credentials, if applicable.
- Got a tight deadline? Make sure your potential lawyer can work with your time-frame. (Remember that hiring a lawyer need not only occur in a crisis. Hiring a lawyer early in the business process can give you more cost-effective options. Waiting until the last minute decreases your options and increases your costs.)
- Billing is important. Ask a potential lawyer how they process bills and if there are any flat rate services available. Do they have minimums (i.e. will they charge you for two-tenths of an hour simply for a 2 minute phone call)? What sort of retainer fees do they require?
- Getting sued? Don’t attempt to hire the opposing counsel. This seems obvious. It still happens. Make sure to choose a lawyer that is not presently against you and your business! Better yet, find an attorney that shares your same values around business. For example, if you’re a doctor, you probably don’t want to hire a medical malpractice attorney even though they may be good at defending you.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions! A good lawyer will explain the legal jargon to you. Be wary of a lawyer that refuses to elaborate or explain. Do they explain things at the right level, without making you feel stupid or foolish? Are they respectful of your time and are timely in responding to you?
What style of lawyer best suits your business?
Finally- ask yourself if this is someone you want to work with. Lawyers are not ‘one size fits all’. You want a lawyer that meshes with your business’s culture and goals. Don’t choose an aggressive litigator if you take a more relaxed approach. Don’t seek out a part time lawyer if you need full time support. And so on and so forth. Ideally, you are looking to create a long term relationship with a business lawyer.
Law 4 Small Business, P.C. (L4SB). A little law now can save a lot later.
It’s good to know that you should get a business lawyer sooner rather than later in order to have more options. It sounds like you might have to have a really good idea of exactly how you want your business to run before talking to the attorney. That way, you can look into all of the best options before you even set it up.
I like the recommendation to consider whether or not you have a conflict of interest. Thanks for the post!
I have never realized that businesses have their own attorneys, but it makes sense that they would need that legal protection. It’s interesting how you point out that businesses looking to hire an attorney should ask potential attorneys if they have handles cases similar to theirs. I imagine that would include the type of case, as well as the amount of people involved and possibly even the type of business involved.
I like how you mentioned that one should ask a small business lawyer if they’ve handled cases like yours. One of my friends is thinking of starting their own business. These tips could potentially help him out, so thanks for sharing them.