Finding the right attorney for your business can be a daunting task. Whether you are new to the marketplace and are in need of a lawyer for your new business or you are in the market for a new business lawyer, the issues remain the same. You need an attorney with the right experience and who is attentive to your business needs.
Ultimately, you should ask yourself, “Do I trust this person with my business?”
To help you answer this question, below are a few issues and questions you should address in evaluating whether or not a prospective business lawyer is right for your business:
Check out the lawyer’s background.
- It should go without saying, but you need to check with the local bar association to determine if the attorney is currently licensed to practice law and whether he or she has had any major disciplinary actions.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for referrals.
- Find out what is their area of practice.
- You need an attorney who spends most of of his/her time practicing business and commercial law.
- When dealing with the health and future prosperity of your business, you want a specialist who can quickly diagnose and efficiently find the solution.
- Ask how much of their practice is devoted to business and commercial law.
- What areas of business law do they specialize in? In what (and how many) other areas do they practice? – are these areas complementary to your business needs?
Assess their experience and knowledge.
- Make sure your attorney has the right experience and knowledge of your industry.
- You need a lawyer who has significant experience with companies like yours so you do not have to pay for the attorney’s learning curve in getting up to speed on the legal issues affecting your industry.
- On the other hand, you should want an attorney who is willing to invest the time to understand your legal issues and the challenges facing your business, rather than provide a cookie-cutter solution.
Don’t forget relationship count!
- While most of your communication with your lawyer may occur on the phone, through email and mail, a face-to-face meeting is still crucial in an attorney-client relationship.
- You need to meet your prospective attorney in person. You can learn many things from a face-to-face meeting that do not communicate well over the phone or email.
- Be wary of any lawyer who is unwilling to meet you in person or insists on a “retainer” before your initial meeting and/or any discussion about your business, your particular issues and the scope of their engagement.
Personality can play a key role in how effective a lawyer will be for your business.
- You need to be comfortable with your legal counselor.
- Would he/she mesh with your executives, managers and your team (i.e., your accountant, financial advisers and other advisers)?
- Is he/she the right fit for the job?
- Do you want a team player? Or do you need an independent person to review your business and keep your managers and employees in check?
- Are they aggressive and outspoken? Or they merely combative?
- Do you want a risk taker? Or do you want someone who is conservative and takes the safe and secure route?
To further help you in your search, below is a list of some of the key characteristics of a good business lawyer (in no particular order of importance or relevance):
- An Advocate for your Business: An attorney needs to be supportive and not just sympathetic to your cause. You do not want a “yes” man. A good attorney is supposed to tell you where you may be wrong. Can the attorney be straight-forward with you?
- Good Business Judgment: Are you comfortable with their business judgment? Do they seem to exercise reasonable and sound business judgment? Or are they too theoretical, impractical and/or out-of touch with your business reality well-thought ideas and reasons.
- Readily Available: Do they have adequate time to take on your matters. Make sure to get a commitment from the attorney.
- A Great Communicator- No “Legalese” please: Your attorney must be able to explain to you even the most complex issues into terms you understand. Your attorney is supposed to find solutions for you, not mystify you.
- Foresight & Proactive: Does the attorney think of ways to help you and your business? Do they seem to understand the problems you are likely to have? Do they have a plan to avoid likely problems?
- Exudes Professionalism: Are they organized and handle themselves with professionalism? Are they respectful of your time – were they on time?
- Have Resources – Will Travel: Does he/she have the resources and connections you may need to support your business? Do he/she know the players in your industry? Do he/she have contacts within your industry? Does he/she have contacts with your customers or prospects? Ask about their affiliations with accountants, financial advisers, bankers, and other professionals. Can you leverage their resources, connections and referrals?
Finding the right attorney for your business does not have to be overwhelming. With a bit of preparation, you should be able to find a lawyer with the right experience and who is attentive to your business needs.