A skilled attorney is a critical part of any business owner's advisory team. Business attorneys are equipped to assist you in handling a variety of tasks that can protect you from potential legal and business pitfalls, in addition to solving existing legal issues. As important as they are to your team, finding the right business attorney may be challenging if you do not know what to look for. Keeping in mind the following tips can help you find and choose the right business attorney.
- Assess Your Needs. When you start looking for a business attorney, it is important to consider your specific legal needs. Attorneys experienced in certain niches may be better suited for the ongoing services your business requires. Consider the following types of legal assistance you may need:
- Drafting and reviewing contracts
- Buying or selling business assets
- Filing reports with the Secretary of State
- Representation in lawsuits
- Complying with laws
- Negotiating contracts
Different firms and attorneys may have practices that are structured to address different needs, even if they all identify as business attorneys. However, some firms have attorneys with diverse backgrounds to assist you in addressing all of your legal needs.
- Research the Firm. Once you have assessed your needs, it is important to research potential attorneys. One of the first ways to do this is by asking your current network for referrals. By asking those familiar with you about their own legal experiences and connections, you can benefit from first-person impressions of the attorneys recommended. Public reviews are another tool for assessing attorneys. A word of caution: Selecting an attorney simply because that attorney or firm appears at the top of your search results is not sufficient research. For the most part, a law firm's position in search results has more to do with its advertising and less to do with its experience and skill set. This is not to say that you should automatically discount the names that come up first. Rather, commit to being as intentional about researching their reputation from reviews and first-person experiences as you would for any other critical business decision.
- Meet the Attorney. Once you have narrowed down your options, there are some questions to keep in mind when you are ready to meet with your prospective attorney:
- How familiar are they with your business and industry? How much experience do they have handling the issues relevant to your business?
- What is their reputation for success?
- What is their communication style? How often will they reach out to you?
- What are their billing practices?
- Who will actually be doing the legal work? Do they outsource any tasks?
- Do you feel comfortable enough to freely express your fears, concerns, and uncertainties?
- Do you trust their judgment?
These are broad questions, and there is no foolproof way to find an attorney, but there are ways to make more informed decisions. Pay attention to anythi