For small business owners, dealing with legal matters can be time consuming and stressful. The small print, the legal jargon and the intricacies of decisions can lead to all kinds of problems. As such, it usually makes more sense to hire a lawyer to handle legalities. However, before choosing a law firm to take care of your business, there are a few things worth considering.
Reputation and expertise
As with anyone you hire, it is important to have a good relationship with the law firm you choose. You should be able to seek advice and counsel from them and it is crucial that they explain jargon and legal terminology in a way that you understand. Discuss your requirements before you sign anything and make sure you are happy with their fees. Generally it is best to choose someone who has been recommended by a friend or business associate. However, if this is not possible, have a look at online reviews and feedback. Qualifications are one thing but you will have to spend time with your lawyer/lawyers so make sure you are happy with the way they deal with you before you let them take on your legal matters.
A little research in the short term can save you a lot of hassle in the long term. Cheap doesn’t always mean they are bad and expensive doesn’t always mean quality. Online forums, newspaper articles and good old Google are great places to find out more about the lawyer you are considering doing business with.
Consider your needs before you choose
Law is a broad area and while some lawyers specialise in criminal law, others will know more about corporate or family law. For business related law you will probably need a lawyer who is used to drawing up contracts, helping with business plans and finance, as well as measures you can put in place to prevent law suits. If you are looking to start a new business or expand, you will need someone who is familiar with acquisitions and can guide you accordingly. Choosing a specialist will ensure you get the most comprehensive advice, and they are more likely to be up to date on the latest legislation and developments that could affect your business. Explain your needs to the lawyer and ask them about their experience in this area before you make a decision. Most firms will be happy to show off their credentials
Where are their offices located?
If you are going to need to visit your lawyers’ office regularly or wish to discuss legal matters in person then this is an important factor. A law firm in one part of the country might be more affordable than one that is local to you but if it means that you can’t just pass by easily then this could cause a problem. Many issues can be dealt with over the phone or by email or traditional mail but some documents will need to be signed in person. Sometimes it is worth paying a little extra for the convenience of having a law firm that is close to hand and easy to contact with any concerns.
How much do they charge?
For many small businesses this is the part that might put them off hiring a lawyer. That said, if you know in advance what you will have to pay then you won’t be left with any nasty surprises. Ask them how much they charge and if there are any additional fees for their services. Do not be afraid to shop around for the best deal. There are some fairly priced lawyers around who are specialists in their field and if you find one, you might well have a legal representative for life.