If you've got a small business, it's crucial you have a lawyer or two in your court.
This is especially true for startup companies and entrepreneurs who will need to navigate the varying issues that come with forming a new business.
Finding the right small business lawyers who will meet your needs can seem like an intimidating process.
But it doesn't have to be.
Do Your Research to Find the Best Small Business Lawyers
It's really that simple. Just take the following steps:
1. Consult with Your Personal/Professional Network
A lead from a friend or family member you trust can be priceless.
But take it one step further and get a recommendation from a business owner in your industry. This is of particular value because they'll share legal concerns with you.
For example, if you're an entrepreneur looking to start a business, you'd want small business lawyers whose expertise is in Business Formation and Startup Law. So you'd get it in touch with leaders of successful startups and ask them about their attorneys.
2. Seek Counsel from Other Attorneys
Who better knows the skill and reputation of other lawyers than those that are right there in the trenches with them?
An attorney's printed or online reputation may not be entirely accurate. So before you settle, ask other lawyer's to fill you in on the important stuff such as competence level, practice habits, demeanor, and ethics.
3. Conduct a Background Check
Once you're edging closer to making a choice, you'll want to ensure that the person you've chosen is in good standing as a member of the bar.
You can do a background check by contacting your state's lawyer disciplinary agency. But be sure to also check the attorney's peer review ratings online.
And finally, check references. This is especially crucial if you found your lawyer on the internet.
4. Set up an In-Person Consultation
Most attorneys offer free half-hour or one-hour consultations to meet with potential clients. So take advantage of this.
It's one of the best ways to see if the lawyer is going to be a good fit. You can determine this by asking some important questions:
- How much experience do you have working with small businesses?
- Do you have experience with my particular issue?
- Will you be able to refer me to other lawyers as needed?
- Is anyone else going to be working with you on my account?
- Are there any conflicts of interest?
- What is your preferred form of communication?
One of the things that makes an in-person meeting so important is that it shows that your potential lawyer is interested in building client relationships. And that means that he or she will likely be willing to make time for you.
5. Work out a Fee Arrangement
Lawyer fees can vary widely, so be sure you understand exactly what you're getting and that your fee arrangement is in writing.
It's not unusual for business attorneys to offer budget-friendly fee arrangements for small businesses. Especially for those just starting out.
These include a flat fee, contingent fee, taking equity in your business or creating a retainer agreement.
Protect Your Business!
Everyone knows that attorneys aren't cheap. And small business lawyers are no different.
But they're an investment you can't afford to ignore if you want to keep your business safe. So use the above steps to find one you can trust.
And for other great articles and tips, keep checking back with our law blog!