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If you are a business owner, there is one essential task you can’t skip: hiring legal representation. Running a business means you’ve got to wear a number of different hats each day to ensure everything gets done.
One hat you probably shouldn’t attempt to try on (unless you have specialized training) is the legal one. It’s best to leave this subject to a law professional. Whether you’re facing an important legal battle, need an opinion, or you’re just simply trying to plan ahead, choosing a lawyer for your business is an important move for your company.
Here are some tips to on how to choose a lawyer for your business.
How to Choose a Lawyer: Specialist or Generalist?
Depending on the nature of your business, you may need to decide if you want to hire someone with a general portfolio of legal experience or a lawyer who specializes in specific types of cases. For example, if your business is related to property management or sales, it may be wise to choose a lawyer who focuses on contracts or real estate.
Companies that produce innovative products or services may need the help of a patent lawyer or a professional with experience in intellectual property and trademark issues. Finance lawyers or business attorneys with expertise in restructuring could help a company looking for ways to expand; a tax attorney is a great option for a company that needs some expert advice about tax issues.
Litigation specialists work with companies that are dealing with lawsuits. There are also lawyers who focus on employment issues if you need services for a situation involving a staff member. In general, it’s best to choose a lawyer for your business with general business experience and to obtain referrals from your chosen attorney for expert specialists when needed.
How to Choose a Lawyer: Individual Characteristics
Once you have determined what kind of lawyer you are planning to hire, then it’s time to figure out what other qualities are important to your business that your legal representative should possess. When you first begin speaking to attorneys, it’s best if they show an interest in what you do, your industry and how your business works.
Personal chemistry during your talks is important since you may be working quite often with your lawyer in the future. Aim to interview at least 3 potential lawyers for your company. Make a score sheet of the following details during your conversations to help you as you contact each person:
● Experience in your industry
● Quality of their education
● Number of years practicing law
● Cost per hour
● Billing procedures and payment flexibility
● Individual responses to each question you have
● Degree of interest in your business
● Average response time to your calls or emails
● Other associates involved in the practice
● Personal attention to each case
● Cost of initial consultation (it should be free)
How to Choose a Lawyer: Where to Look
The last important part of securing the right business attorney is knowing where to find qualified professionals. It’s tempting to do a quick Google search, but your business requires a more focused approach if you want to get someone with top qualifications and who is ready to help you address your business’ needs.
One of the best methods of finding a talented attorney is through a referral. Ask your friends, colleagues, accountants, and other contacts for their recommendations for a business lawyer. This is a great way to get real feedback about a potentially qualified person. If you don’t find any good leads going this route, check out your state’s bar association. Each state maintains a listing of licensed attorneys. You can even do a search and focus on a lawyer’s main area of expertise.
Attorneys are also listed on national rating services, such as Martindale, which gives businesses and consumers honest reviews about each professional’s services. From there, you can determine which attorney would be a best fit.
Finally, your company’s industry may have its own listings of lawyers created by a trade association. Lists like these may be more focused on specific legal issues impacting your industry.
It can be a long process figuring out how to choose a lawyer for your business, but taking your time to research your potential legal partner could benefit your organization in many ways. The right kind of lawyer can help protect you and your company’s interests and keep you focused on reaching your goals.
For more help and advice about making your business stronger and more successful, contact me today. I offer a complimentary video coaching session when you fill out my online contact form.