Hiring an attorney is a big decision for your business. It’s important to choose legal counsel that meets your needs but is also a good personal fit. After all, you may need to rely on this person to make critical decisions for your business.
Before you make your decision, take the time to find out who they are and how they work. Believe it or not, you may even want to find out l whether they like tacos (obviously, taco haters can’t be trusted). But in all seriousness, and without further ado, here are our recommendations for questions to ask before hiring an attorney to support your small business.
How much experience do you have in my industry?
An ideal attorney should have relevant experience in your line of work. While some matters in employment law, patents, and business structuring can remain consistent across the board, the devil is often in the details. An attorney with experience in your industry is better positioned to know the legal challenges you may face, and can help prevent issues from arising in the first place. . So, for example, if you’re starting up a small bakery and want the expert advice of an attorney, someone with past experience in the restaurant industry or food safety may be a particularly helpful partnership.
What is your approach to conflict resolution?
This question may be more of a personal preference rather than a distinct qualification. Adding any partner to your business should involve a level of cohesiveness between the parties. Making sure that you know what to expect when conflict arises may help avoid complicated drama between you and your attorney.
Will there be anyone else handling my work?
Some law offices employ paralegals, law students, and interns to assist on client cases. Some may assign a team of specialists rather than just one attorney. Any of these options may suit your business, but you should know in advance how your work will be handled, and how you will communicate with your firm about projects.
Do you have any clients who may create conflicts?
Chances are if you’re working with an established attorney or law firm, you’ll hardly be their only client. It is a good idea to confirm that the firm you chose does not have other clients with interests that directly conflict with yours.
How long do you typically take to get back to clients?
Welcome to 2021, where most of us are glued to our phones and devices 24/7. You may want to clarify your attorney’s standard response time is. Can you expect a response by the end of each business day? Are they swamped with clients and only get back to you once a week?
How do you bill?
Most old school lawyers bill hourly … which can rack up quicker than you expect. Especially if you’re caught up in a lawsuit, the hours your attorney spends dedicated to your business will skyrocket. Other firms may bill a monthly retainer and remain available when needed or bill per project. What’s right for your business may not be what is right for others. You should make sure to know exactly how you will be charged before you hire an attorney.
Are there ways to reduce the cost of your services?
We get it, new businesses may be on a tight budget while getting started. Maybe you’re looking for a partner that isn’t going to burn a hole in your pocket right away. Don’t be afraid to ask for competitive prices but do your part to be a helpful and respectful client. Believe it or not, that can often take you a long way.
Do you belong to any specialized bar associations?
Finding an attorney that belongs to a specialized bar association may be a way for them to relate to you or your community. It may also be a way to find a referral for an attorney. If you are passionate about a certain topic or specialized field, starting with a similar bar association may be a great place for you to start your search.
Hiring an attorney to support the needs of your small business doesn’t need to be as stressful as you may think. While you want to take the time to be sure you’re hiring the right person to partner with your business, these questions can help you make your decision with fewer concerns of whether or not it’s the right choice. Should you decide to forgo the old school lawyers, our team at @VirtualCounsel is ready to get started working with you and your business.
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