Lawyers can be costly. Because I am a victim’s attorney, my contingency fees are paid after the conclusion of my cases, from the money I recover for my clients, rather than up ahead. However, as a business owner, I am aware that in order to succeed, you must be willing to invest in a qualified business attorney. Despite the high initial cost, failing to hire the correct lawyer to assist you on your new business can prove to be significantly more costly in the long run.
So, where do you look for an attorney, what should you expect, and how can you get the best deal?
Related: How to Choose a Business Partner?
When do you require the services of an attorney?
When you decide to start a business, you will require the services of an attorney. Before you face a lawsuit or an audit, you should hire a lawyer for your company. Once you’re in court, the expense of a litigation specialist will much outweigh the cost of hiring an attorney to set up your business properly.
A startup lawyer can assist you in determining the sort of business entity you wish to incorporate — corporation, partnership, or limited liability company — as well as preparing the necessary papers for filing. A skilled startup lawyer will assist you in properly establishing your business so that you avoid legal issues down the road. This is a wise investment.
As your company grows, you may require additional legal counsel in areas such as taxation, intellectual property, contracts, and real estate. When you hire these specialists, the same steps you used to find your startup lawyer will be useful. Other sorts of lawyers may be referred to you by your small-business or startup lawyer.
How should you make use of your lawyer?
Your lawyer is well-versed in a variety of skills, but he or she is not a mind reader. You may be paying for counsel and coaching, but the business is ultimately yours, and the money you spend is yours. And you’ll be spending money, so make the most of it.
Prepare a list of questions before calling or sitting in an office with your attorney. Set a goal for yourself. Do you need general counsel or do you have a specific problem that needs to be addressed? When you know what you want to achieve, the questions should flow naturally.
As briefly as possible, describe your issue or concern to the attorney. Then simply ask him or her, “What are my rights?” What can or should I do in this situation? And, most significantly, how can you assist me in obtaining what I require or desire? If the answer you receive does not satisfy you, challenge it or ask further questions. You have the right to the best legal advice and representation available.
What can you expect from your lawyer?
Your startup attorney should be managing a variety of responsibilities that are vital for a new business, in addition to assisting you in determining the sort of corporation for your company. Even if it is his or her duty to be aware of these issues, the more educated you are, the better you will be able to stay informed.
Find out if your attorney will conduct a business-name check to confirm you have the right to use the name you want and if filing a fictitious business-name statement is suitable. Your lawyer should also assist you in obtaining a federal tax ID (EIN) and drafting a partnership agreement, articles of incorporation, or other business-formation document.
For new enterprises, each of these processes is critical. Having them done by a professional will put your mind at ease and allow you to concentrate on your business.
How do you go about finding the correct lawyer?
Although education, experience, and qualifications are vital, don’t be fooled by lawyers who claim to be among the “Top 10” or “Top 20.” As an attorney, I find it difficult to recognize that many of these awards have been bought and are therefore invalid. Do your homework and check out the attorney’s credentials from a variety of sources. A online search is always an excellent place to start, but I also recommend talking to other business owners and collecting referrals.
When it comes to beginning a business, you’ll need an attorney who is familiar with small enterprises. You’ll want to double-check the knowledge and experience of any legal experts you engage as your company grows. The bottom line is that you should only collaborate with someone you can trust to provide you with sound advice and to handle your business professionally.
Attorney candidates should be interviewed in the same way that employment candidates are. Ask open-ended questions, such as, “What is your area of expertise?” What is your level of experience? I’m not sure how I’ll be billed. Make sure they don’t have any conflicts of interest (you don’t want them representing your competitors) and that you’ll be able to communicate effectively with them. It’s best to find out these details before signing on the dotted line and discovering your attorney has gone missing in the middle of an emergency.
“Do I feel comfortable with this person?” is the most crucial question you should ask yourself before hiring a legal expert. You may have been working with this individual for a long time. Will you be dreading or looking forward to seeking his or her advice? Attorney-shopping, like dating, requires compatibility. On paper, the finest lawyer may not be the ideal lawyer for you as you negotiate the highs and lows of starting a business.
It can be difficult to start a business. With so many changing parts and so much out of your control, having a strong foundation is essential. That foundation, as well as the plan for establishing robust walls for the structure you’re building, can be provided by a qualified business attorney. Working with someone you admire may be a wonderful experience on many levels.