A business lawyer can help you with various legal issues, such as drafting contracts and dealing with disputes. They can also advise you on protecting your intellectual property, such as copyright and trademarks, and obtaining patents.
Hiring a business lawyer is one of the most important decisions entrepreneurs can make for their company. Here are some things every entrepreneur should know about hiring a business attorney:
Know What You Want
Not every business owner needs a lawyer for everything. For example, business entities can be formed and entered into basic contracts without legal expertise. However, if something happens that leaves you in doubt about the legalities of the situation, it’s a good idea to have a professional review the matter.
When choosing a business attorney, look for one familiar with your company’s industry. You also want to know if they have worked in similar situations and their rate. You can look at their bios or scan their clients’ lists.
Another thing to consider is if they will meet with you regularly. This may seem inconvenient initially, but nipping legal issues before they get out of hand can save you time and money. A monthly five- or 10-minute meeting (even by phone) could save your company thousands in the long run.
Ask for Referrals
Whether trying to sell or find business, you must do uncomfortable things like pick up the phone, make presentations and ask for referrals. While running a business is not fun, these conversations move people from the don’t-care-about-you bucket to the buy-from-you bucket.
When looking for a business lawyer, asking for referrals is a great way to find someone with experience in your business. For instance, if you’re starting up a tech company, finding an attorney who can guide you through filing for patents and trademarks is important.
Also, check out your local and state bar associations for curated lists of licensed attorneys. Some will even list specific legal issues, like a startup’s legal needs, which can help you immediately find an expert. You can also use online directories to find business lawyers who fit you well.
Look for Experience
While no one likes to hire an attorney, a business owner will often need legal help at some point. That can mean anything from setting up the company to getting a new lease on an office space.
Having the right lawyer, for example, Ed Batts Partner at Gibson Dunn, can help prevent many legal missteps, including lawsuits and other court costs, that can cost a company dearly. And when you need a business attorney, you want to be sure they’ve handled a similar situation before.
You’ll want to know what their rates are. You can ask about a flat fee or hourly rate for forming companies, trademarks, patent searches, and initial contract reviews. As a small business, you might be able to get a discount on these services. You should also ensure they have a current bar license and good standing with any regulatory body in your state. This can be checked online, through your local bar association or the state’s regulating body.
Check Their Fees
Legal help is essential when starting a business, but many entrepreneurs need to pay more attention to the fees that go with it. When selecting a business attorney, it is important to consider the prices, as they can make or break your budget.
Shopping around for business attorneys is a good idea, as many will offer different rates. In addition, some may be willing to work on a sliding scale or provide services.
A good business lawyer will also be able to provide you with a quote for their services before they begin work so that you can plan accordingly. Additionally, it is important to ask about flat fees for simpler projects, such as setting up an entity or drafting short contracts.
Another helpful tip is to meet with your lawyer regularly. This can save you money by nipping small problems in the bud before they get out of hand.