How To Find A Business Lawyer
Many small business owners don't realize that they need a good business lawyer. Many businesses will need a business lawyer during the startup process, while others can wait until the business has actually started before hiring a business lawyer. This will largely depend on the type of business you are starting. The important thing is that you have a business lawyer before you have a situation that requires the expertise of one. Here are some tips that will show you how to find a business lawyer.
You will know when you have found the right business lawyer for your business. They will have a good understanding of your business. Their references, education and work history will all check out, and you will feel like your businesses legal issues are in good hands.
- Know the difference between the two types of business lawyers. If you are being sued, you need a business litigator - a business lawyer who specializes in lawsuits. If you need a business lawyer to handle contracts, corporate matters, or other business matters and transactions, you need a transactional lawyer.
- Get the names of local business lawyers from the phone book, other attorneys, friends, relatives, the Bar Association, or the local newspaper. You can also ask for a list of business lawyers from your local Chamber of Commerce. Check to see if they have websites, and get as much information as you can about each business lawyer. By getting basic biographical information, you should be able to weed some of the business lawyer's out, and concentrate more on the ones that remain on your list.
- Make sure your business lawyer does not represent any of your direct competition. An ethical business lawyer will let you know this upfront, as it presents a conflict of interest for the lawyer. However, the business lawyer you choose should have experience that relates in some way to your business, or your legal needs.
- Ask the business lawyer you are considering for references. They should supply you with references from other lawyers, certified public accountants, and possibly banks. In most cases, they will not supply you with the names of their other clients for references, as this is unethical.
- Ask for background information from the business lawyer. Check the lawyer's education and work history, as well as their standing in any associations they belong to. Also, check their standing with the Bar Association. Don't take their word for it. Check the information.
- Set up consultations with the business lawyers you are interested in. This is where you interview them. The meetings will usually be held at the business lawyer's office. Give them some information about your business, and what legal issues you might need their help with. Find out what experience they have in the areas that relate to the legal issues your business might face. Find out rates as well. Give the business lawyer a hypothetical situation, and ask them how they would handle the situation, how long it would take, and what the total fee would be for that hypothetical situation.
- Find out if the business lawyer will be handling your legal matters personally, or if your legal issues will be passed on to a paralegal or partner. Make sure you meet anyone that your work may be passed on to. If you are not comfortable with these people, or the thought of your legal matters being passed over to them, continue your search for a business lawyer.
- Make sure the business lawyer has at least a basic understanding of your business. If he doesn't know what you are talking about - or worse, if he doesn't know what he is talking about - he cannot help you.
- Ask to see a copy of the business lawyer's retainer agreement. Make sure that you understand it, and have anything that you do not understand explained to you. Do not sign anything until you clearly understand what you are agreeing to.
- Even though time is money - for both you and the business attorney - take the time to get to know him or her a little bit during the first consultation. Start out with polite 'getting to know you' conversation before moving on to the interview.
- Let the business lawyer do most of the talking. You ask the questions, then sit back and really listen to how he or she is responding to those questions. You can learn quite a bit about a person this way. Don't be surprised if the attorney asks you questions before responding to your questions. This is a good sign, as it shows that the lawyer is willing to take the time to get all the facts.
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