One of the challenges of owning a business — be it a small enterprise or a large company — is dealing with legal matters. From hiring new employees to applying for patents, there are numerous reasons to hire a lawyer for your business. Aside from complying with business regulations, you need someone who can help you prevent legal issues that could damage your reputation and drag your business to the bankruptcy, handle employment disputes, and prepare agreements and contracts.
Since hiring a lawyer is integral to the existence and growth of your enterprise, you shouldn’t settle with just about any attorney or firm. You need to go for someone who fits the needs of your business and passes off as a reliable partner for the long run. Here are a few tips to help you find the best lawyer for your business:
Know your reasons
It pays to understand why you need a lawyer in the first place. After all, not all situations require the services of a corporate attorney. Small enterprises, for one, have less to worry about on the legal side. However, as they expand, they will need to change their legal structures, apply for trademark protection, and secure additional capital to sustain their growth. If your business is on the verge of expanding to new locations or markets, then you are in the right position to hire a lawyer who can pave the way towards a smoother growth path.
Another reason why hiring an attorney is crucial is the nature of the industry you are in. The entertainment industry is a good example of a field that needs lawyers, especially those who are experienced in copyright law. Talent agencies and film production companies also need lawyers who can handle cases of injuries and damages on set.
The best incentive you get from hiring a lawyer is the amount of legal obstructions you can set aside. In that case, you’d do well to hire someone who is well-versed in handling different areas instead of settling with an attorney who specializes in one area of business law.
Search high and low
Once you have decided to build the legal arm of your business, you can start looking for practitioners and firms that operate within your area. You will need to use every available means to find and reach out to law offices that cater to your industry. You can always start by using search engines like Google to find local listings of firms and attorneys. Some of them may have websites that provide details about their practice, client reviews and testimonies, as well as a wide range of legal resources.
Aside from search engines, you can try browsing online directories such as LegalZoom or reaching out to local business groups. That way, it will be easier for you to find attorneys who have worked with businesses in the same industry before. Still, knowing what law firms are available in your area doesn’t tell you much about the quality of the services they can provide. For this reason, you will need to be meticulous when you are dealing with a potential candidate. This is where the most tedious yet critical part of the hiring process begins.
Arrange for an initial consultation
Being able to find one attorney who specializes in corporate law doesn’t mean you have found the best person for the job. Hence, you will need to schedule an initial consultation with each candidate so you can have a better idea of what they are capable of bringing to the table.
In fact, an initial consultation allows you to determine whether a certain law firm or attorney fits your expectations. While you will need to disclose sensitive information during the process, lawyers agree to keep the details you discussed during the consultation confidential.
Moreover, you may be required to pay a consultation fee, but there are some lawyers who offer free consultations. Regardless of whether you need to pay or not, your goal during each consultation is to discuss your needs clearly and see if the candidate is capable of delivering the results you wanted. The best way you can find out is by asking the right questions.
Interview your prospects
If you have a shortlist of prospective attorneys you want to work with, you will need to settle for one that suits your goals as well as your resources. After all, lawyers charge a hefty price for their services, so it’s either you find someone who offers the cheapest rate or someone who charges more but delivers excellent results.
For this, it’s important to spend the initial consultation asking a series of questions that reveal much about the prospect. In terms of experience, you can ask about the number of years the lawyer has been practicing. Follow it up by asking about their areas of specialization as well as the specific issues they often handle.
You also need to know if the firm or lawyer maintains networks that include consulting firms like The Knowles Group, educational institutions, and local chambers of commerce.
It’s also crucial to know how you are going to communicate with each other. For this, ask about the number of hours they can devote to your enterprise and if they are available to provide legal advice after hours.
Lastly, you can ask how you will be billed and whether there are flexible billing options you can consider based on the size of your business. Larger companies have no problem paying by the hour, but if you are a struggling startup that’s about to expand, you have the option of paying for every five minutes of legal work.
There are many more questions you can ask to potential lawyers for your business. You just have to gather and compare their answers and see if which one is worth hiring. As a business owner, there are legal risks you should know about and prepare for. It pays to provide the best for your business by hiring someone who has the right skills and knowledge to help you expand.