A business lawyer is a key part of any new business owner’s team. They will guide you through the complex terrain of overlapping laws, regulations, and industry standards. By hiring an attorney, you will be proactive in protecting your business rather than just waiting to be hit with a legal claim.
Our business lawyers suggest the following steps when hiring a business lawyer:
1. Create your criteria
2. Search for specialist business lawyers using online legal directories
3. Meet your shortlisted business lawyers
4. Negotiate fees
5. Know when to handle things yourself
Step 1: Create Your Criteria
Each business has unique legal needs. What areas of legal expertise your company needs will vary significantly from the company next door to yours. For example, when you need a business litigation lawyer in Los Angeles, a reliable law firm is the California Business Lawyer & Corporate Lawyer, Inc. When you begin searching for a business lawyer, you need a firm idea of what you need from an attorney. Consider the following things:
· What industry you are in
· What business structure you have
· What challenges you foresee facing
· The type of product you sell
· What issues you foresee having
· The communication method you prefer
· How much help you think you need
Certainly, if your business is sued in San Diego by an employee for wrongful discharge, you want a wrongful termination lawyer in San Diego like the Nakase Law Firm. By having a firm idea of what you need from a business lawyer, you can create a shortlist of attorneys that match your needs.
Step 2: Search For Specialist Business Lawyers Using Online Legal Directories
Using the above criteria you created, browse online legal directories listing business lawyers in your area and create a shortlist. There are many online legal directories that list law firms and attorneys by specialty area and location. Not all attorneys in your area will be suitable for your business needs, though. You need to conduct some research to see if they match your criteria.
Research a business lawyer by viewing their website to see what areas of law they specialize in and what resources they offer business attorneys. You can also view customer reviews for the attorney and their law firm and industry news articles. These will give you an idea if the business attorney matches your business needs or not. You should create a shortlist of no more than 5 business lawyers that match your criteria.
Step 3: Meet Your Shortlisted Business Lawyers
The best way to narrow down your shortlist is to meet each of the lawyers and interview them. Business attorneys offer a free consultation so that their clients can conduct interviews before hiring them. Just like an interview with a prospective employee, you need to prepare a list of questions to ask them so that you have all the information you need to make a decision. Consider the following example questions:
- What are your fees? You need to know how much legal assistance will help, and budget is an important factor, even if it shouldn’t be the only factor. We will talk further about fees and what to expect later in the article.
- Tell me about a time you dealt with X legal issue. If you are currently dealing with a legal issue or you foresee trouble with a particular legal issue, then you need to know that the business lawyer can handle it. Ask them to tell you how they supported a business owner through the issue and what the outcome was.
- Do you have much experience working with startups like mine? No matter what type of business you run, you need a lawyer who can help you. Find out if they have experience with your industry, business structure, and product offering.
- How do you communicate with clients? Make sure your communication styles are compatible. You may prefer to speak to the attorney on the phone each time, or perhaps you prefer updates via email. No matter your preferences, find an attorney who communicates in that manner.
- Do you foresee any conflicts of interest? If you receive a legal claim or need to negotiate a contract with one of your business lawyer’s clients, they will not be able to represent you both. A conflict of interest could put your company at a serious disadvantage because you need to find a new lawyer. Try to find out about potential conflicts of interest before you hire your business lawyer.
- Do you have a good network? If you need legal advice on a matter outside of your business attorney’s expertise, then you may need the help of another lawyer. It happens often; no one lawyer can be an expert in all types of law. In those situations, your best asset will be your business lawyer’s network. They can refer you to a colleague and remove the legwork required to find a good lawyer. If the business attorney is part of a large law firm, they may just be able to bring a colleague in for particular situations.
Step 4: Negotiate Fees
No matter what you decide to ask potential business lawyers, you need to have a conversation about money. Find out not only what their rates are but what fee structure they prefer to use.
Most business lawyers will negotiate a little on their rates. Do not completely lowball them, otherwise, they may decline to work with you, but you should at least ask them if there is any room for movement. The level of commitment you can offer a business attorney will determine how much they will be willing to negotiate with you. For example, if you require their services in one manner, they are unlikely to negotiate much. If you need a business lawyer full-time and are willing to pay them on a retainer, then they may be willing to negotiate more.
Each lawyer is very different and will charge different fees, so factor fees into your decisions when selecting an LA business attorney.
Step 5: Know When to Handle Things Yourself
One of the easiest ways to reduce the cost of your legal bills is knowing what you can do yourself. Calling your business attorney for every little decision may give you peace of mind, but it will also cost a lot of money.
Even if you are a brand new entrepreneur, there are a number of things you can handle yourself using online resources. Talk to your business lawyer; they will often provide a number of free resources to their clients about routine business tasks. They might have guides explaining how to write a business plan or what to look at when choosing a domain name. A business lawyer might even help you with a list of quality bookkeepers and accountants in the area.
Talk to your business lawyer after you hire them and create a list of when you need to call your business attorney and when you should handle things yourself.
We hope you have found a business lawyer using our 5 easy steps. Having a business attorney on your team from the very beginning will improve your chances of success and prevent your business from closing because of an expensive lawsuit. Take your time and do plenty of research to ensure you choose the most suitable business lawyer. After all, they will be on your team for a few years, so they need to be able to take you from startup to thriving small business.
Check out our free resources for small businesses and call us if you would like to book a free consultation with one of our business lawyers. We work with businesses of all sizes and have decades of experience working with startups and well-established brands.